Israel’s propaganda machine has been working overtime to justify last week’s raid on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza, in which at least nine people died.
But the accounts of the activists who suffered in the raid, and the overblown nature of many of Israel’s allegations, have fatally undermined its story.
Israel claims that the murder of people acting in solidarity with the Palestinians was an act of self-defence.
The Jerusalem Post newspaper alleged that the armed soldiers only responded when they were attacked on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara.
Right wing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Our naval personnel were met with a vicious mob. They were stabbed, they were clubbed, they were fired upon.”
No guns were found—Israel later claimed they had been thrown overboard.
Jamal Elshayyal, a journalist for Al Jazeera on the Mavi Marmara, told of the Israelis firing shots from the air before they landed on the ship’s deck.
He said, “There was definitely fire from the air, because one of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above—he was shot, the bullet targeted him at the top of his head.”
An article appeared on the Israeli Defence Force’s spokesperson’s website with the headline, “Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found to be Al Qaida Mercenaries”.
It was later changed to “Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers,” with the allegations about Al Qaida removed from the main article.
Netanyahu said, “This wasn’t a love boat, this was a hate boat. Israel cannot permit the free flow of weapons and war materials to Hamas from the sea.
“Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometres from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem.”
So 600 activists from over 30 countries, whose sole motivation was to break the siege of Gaza and bring solidarity, were painted as villains to the world.
Israel wants us to believe that participants including Henning Mankell, the Swedish author of the Wallander novels, and German Left Party MP Inge Hoeger are simply supporters of Iran and Hamas.
Israel says that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and so there is no need for aid convoys. Netanyahu said, “Humanitarian and other goods can go in, and weapons and war material cannot. And we do let civilian goods get into Gaza.”
But Gaza’s people are suffering terribly under the siege. Around 70 percent of people live on less than $1 a day, 75 percent rely on food aid and 60 percent have no daily access to water.
The IDF has put out a press statement which admits it doctored audio recordings it released of communication between itself and the flotilla.
As originally released the tapes appeared to show activists saying, “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz” and “We’re helping Arabs go against the US, don’t forget 9/11.”
The wave of outrage at the attack and Israel’s actions against the Palestinians means that it cannot get away with such blatant falsifications.