Six years after Israel’s most horrible naval crime in recent years, victims of the families still await justice, and Palestinians an end to the siege and occupation. The attack was harrowing, unprovoked and barbaric. Israel came for one thing, to kill and maim.
Here are 10 facts you need to know about Israel’s 2010 act of piracy:
1. The flotilla carried much needed aid such as food, medicine, school supplies and building materials. On board were human rights defenders, including a former President, MP’s, Nobel peace prize winner, diplomats, writers, and artists. In total, 688 people from 41 nations were on board the flotilla when it was raided.
2. On 31 May 2010, Israeli navy rained the flotilla with bullets from close ranges, while commandos landed on the largest aid ship, the Mavi Marmara. Autopsy results revealed that nine Turkish men (one also an American citizenship) on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times. Four years later, another activist passed away of wounds sustained during the attack. Around 189 activists were also wounded. Israel dragged the ships to its ports, detained all passengers and confiscated all aid.
3. Furkan Dogan, 19, was an American activist who was brutally slaughtered by Israeli heavily armed commandos. Filming the Israeli assault, Furkan was shot in the face from point blank. When he was down, he was hit by more bullets that left him dead and unrecognizable. The U.S. administration still ignores this crime. A letter sent to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains unanswered.
4. Israel instantly claimed the ships carried weapons to Gaza. Later, it claimed activists were armed, and the occupation Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed Israeli soldiers who committed the crimes acted in self-defense. Truth is no weapons were ever found, and….
5. On 22 March, occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for what he described as “operational mistakes” during the raid. Israel also pledged to pay reparation to the families of the victims.
6. Israel stole more than 3 million dollars in aid, cash, electronic devices and personal properties. Moreover, activists’ credit cards were used by Israeli soldiers to buy beer(!!)
American nurse and aid worker Kathy Sheets, who survived the attack, has provided bank statements proving her bank card, taken by the Israeli forces during the attack, was used in Tel Aviv.
“[The solders] tried to use it without the PIN code and could not, but they could use it in a vending machine and had multiple accesses to my card to buy beer.”
“What it means is that I witnessed the Israeli Navy going and killing people and at the end buying beer with my card.”
Mocking the whole world, especially the victims, Israel indicted only ONE soldier of looting!
7. Turkey reacted fiercely to Israel’s crimes against the fleet, issuing indictments against those responsible for Israel’s assault on unarmed humanitarian aid workers. Later Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced that the Turkish government would downgrade its diplomatic relations with Israel and suspend all military relations with Israel.
8. Israel’s unprovoked attack was met with international uproar. Courts in Spain and South Africa found Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 10 other senior Israeli officials liable for prosecution for crimes against humanity. A UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) report into the raid found “clear evidence to support prosecutions” of crimes under the Geneva Convention, such as willful killing, torture, inhuman treatment and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.
9. Gaza is still under siege and occupation. The UN report described the Gaza siege as “totally intolerable and unacceptable in the 21st century”.
10. Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip still honor the victims every year. A memorial was erected in the center of Gaza’s seaport. The memorial’s inscription bears the names of the Turkish solidarity activists killed by Israeli occupation commandos.