Sense of Deception

Under Construction: June 9, 2010 – 30 New posts before work. Many more to come late tonight.

Sorry folks I have been bogged down with work. More information coming tonight, and tomorrow. There should be about 50 more posts at least. Martial Law section should be up and running here shortly.



June 1, 2010 at 17:26 (Gaza, Israel, Palestine, War Crimes)

In this photo taken on Saturday, former South Africa president Nelson Mandela is reunited with The Elders, three years after he launched the group, in Johannesburg. Photo: AP

Nobel-winning Elders deplore Gaza flotilla attack

The Elders group of past and present world leaders, including former South African president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on Monday condemned as “completely inexcusable” the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying aid for Gaza.

At least 10 people are reported to have been killed when Israeli commandos raided the boats on Monday in an operation that has drawn international condemnation.

“The Elders have condemned the reported killing by Israeli forces of more than a dozen people who were attempting to deliver relief supplies to the Gaza Strip by sea,” the 12—member group said in a statement issued in Johannesburg, where it met over the weekend.

The group, which was launched by Mr. Mandela on his birthday in 2007 to try to solve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, called for a “full investigation” of the incident and urged the UN Security Council “to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip.” “This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” the group said.

Israel’s three—year blockade of Gaza was not only “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations” and “illegal” under international law, it was also “counterproductive” because it empowered extremists in the Palestinian territory, they said.

The Elders includes six Nobel peace prize winners — former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former US president Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Mandela and Tutu.

Norway’s first female Prime Minister Gro Brundtland; former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former Irish president and ex—UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; Mozambican social activist Graca Machel; Indian women’s rights activist Ela Bhatt; and Algerian veteran UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are the other members.


US activist loses eye after being shot in face with tear gas canister


International Solidarity Movement

1 June 2010

US citizen Emily Henochowicz was shot directly in the face with a  tear gas canister as she non-violently demonstrated against the Flotilla  massacreUS citizen Emily Henochowicz was shot directly in the face with a tear gas canister as she non-violently demonstrated against the Flotilla massacre

UPDATE 1 June, 8:30PM (GMT+2): Emily is recovering at Hadassah Hospital after two surgeries Monday night. She lost her left eye, three metal plates were inserted into her head/face, and her jaw is wired shut. The bone surrounding her eye socket, cheekbone and jawbone are all fractured. Emily was standing peacefully during a demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint Monday when Border Police fired a large number of tear gas canisters directly at the heads of Emily and another ISM activist.
.31 May 2010: An American solidarity activist was shot in the face with a tear gas canister during a demonstration in Qalandiya, today. Emily Henochowicz is currently in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem undergoing surgery to remove her left eye, following the demonstration that was held in protest to Israel’s murder of at least 10 civilians aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters this morning.

21-year old Emily Henochowicz was hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today. Israeli occupation forces fired volleys of tear gas at unarmed Palestinian and international protesters, causing mass panic amongst the demonstrators and those queuing at the largest checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel.

“They clearly saw us,” said Sören Johanssen, a Swedish ISM volunteer standing with Henochowicz. “They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Henochowicz is an art student at the prestigious Cooper Union, located in East Village, Manhattan.

The demonstration was one of many that took place across the West Bank today in outrage over the Israeli military’s attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla and blatant violation of international law. Demonstrations also took place in inside Israel, Gaza and Jerusalem, with clashes occurring in East Jerusalem and Palestinian shopkeepers in the occupied Old City closing their businesses for the day in protest.

Henochowicz lost her left eye after being shot directly in the face  with a tear gas canisterHenochowicz lost her left eye after being shot directly in the face with a tear gas canister

Tear gas canisters are commonly used against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank. In May 2009, the Israeli State Attorney’s Office ordered Israeli Police to review its guidelines for dispersing demonstrators, following the death of a demonstrator, Bassem Abu Rahmah from Bil’in village, caused by a high velocity tear-gas projectile. Tear-gas canisters are meant to be used as a means of crowd dispersal, to be shot indirectly at demonstrators and from a distance. However, Israeli forces frequently shoot canisters directly at protesters and are not bound by a particular distance from which they can shoot.Israeli occupation forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships on the Freedom Flotilla at 5 a.m. this morning, opening fire on the hundreds of unarmed civilians aboard. No-one aboard the ships were carrying weapons of any kind, including for defense against a feared Israeli attack in international waters. At least 9 aid workers aboard the ship have been confirmed dead, with dozens more injured. The assault took place 70 miles off the Gaza coast in international waters, after the flotilla was surrounded by three Israeli warships. The Freedom Flotilla, carrying 700 human rights activists from over 40 countries and 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, was headed for the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli blockade on Gaza, combined with the illegal buffer zone, has put a stranglehold on the territory. 42% of Gazans are unemployed, and food insecurity hovers around 60% according to figures from the Palestine Centre for Human Rights.

HOT: Curious Trading by Federal Reserve Advisor May Result in JPMorgan Chase $1.264 Billion Windfall


There is some mighty curious trading going on in Maiden Lane LLC, the entity set up by the Federal Reserve to buy some of Bear Stearns’ assets. The Federal Reserve hasn’t released enough information to be able to determine the exact details of the trading, but from the information that is available, it appears that trades are being made for the benefit of JPMorgan Chase.

There are big questions, such as why is a portfolio, that is supposed to be wound down, showing a double digit turnover of its portfolio?

In an EPJ exclusive, Bob English does a forensic analysis of the public information surrounding Maiden Lane and it doesn’t come out smelling roses. The analysis is here.

Israel Murders Human Rights Workers Delivering Humanitarian Aid


by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

On Sunday, Israel murdered human rights workers who were attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, because Gaza has been virtually cut off from the outside world by Israel. At least 19 people were reportedly killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops boarded the 6-ship Freedom Flotilla convoy in international waters and immediately fired live ammunition at the people on board the ships. The convoy was comprised of 700 people from 50 nationalities and included a Nobel laureate, members of parliament from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Malaysia, as well as Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset and a Holocaust survivor.

Israel’s armed attack on these human rights workers constitutes a clear breach of international law. The human rights workers should be released immediately, medical treatment should be provided for the wounded, and all humanitarian aid materials should be immediately transferred to Gaza.

Human rights organizations and bar associations, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, MADRE, the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy, World Human Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and the governments of Britain, France, Germany and Turkey have condemned the Israeli assault. The U.S. government, has not yet spoken out in opposition to the assault by Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid since World War II.

There should be an international investigation of crimes committed during and after Israel’s armed attack on the Freedom Flotilla and prosecution of all Israeli officials and soldiers responsible.

Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza, which constitutes unlawful aggression under General Assembly Resolution 3314 (1974). When the Security Council convenes, it should order Israel to cease its acts of aggression.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, is the deputy secretary general for external communications of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. See
Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn

Eyewitnesses recount Israel flotilla raid

June 1, 2010 — Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT) // <!–[CDATA[// –>

Israeli Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference after  the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

Israeli Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference after the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

(CNN) — Some of the first accounts emerged Tuesday from eyewitnesses who were aboard several boats stormed by Israeli forces as they approached Gaza the day before.

Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament, was on board the Miva Marmara, the ship that was the scene of a confrontation between activists and Israeli soldiers. That clash left at least nine people dead.

The Israeli Navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters, Zoabi said during a press conference in Nazareth, Israel. She said passengers on board the ship were unarmed.

Israel has said its forces found several weapons among the passengers on the Miva Marmara. Israel also has said that its forces started shooting after passengers on the Miva Marmara assaulted them.

Zoabi said the military operation lasted about an hour and that she saw five dead bodies in that time.

She urged Israeli authorities to investigate and to let the news media interview passengers who have been detained.

Zoabi said she believes Israel has video footage of how the ten passengers were killed, and she called on Israeli authorities to release that footage.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that of the six ships in the flotilla, the people prepared an ambush on one, a reference to the Turkish ship. But on the other five, “the people got off without a scratch.”

Huwaida Arraf, one of the Free Gaza Movement organizers, told CNN Israeli troops roughed her up when they responded aggressively to her ship, a smaller one in the flotilla that was near the Turkish vessel where the casualties occurred.

“They started coming after our ship,” she told CNN, “so we took off and they charged us also. Eventually, they overtook our ship and they used concussion grenades, sound bombs and pellets.”

She said the people on her ship tried to keep them off. She said they were told the vessel was American and the people aboard were unarmed.

But, she said “they started beating people. My head was smashed against the ground and they stepped on my head. They later cuffed me and put a bag over my head. They did that to everybody.”

Her account could not be independently verified.

Cowen: Israel faces ‘serious consequences’ if Irish are harmed


01/06/2010 – 17:24:19

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has today warned Israel that if it harms any Irish citizens there will be “serious consequences”.

Mr Cowen also said that the Government is “very unhappy” with the current situation, and that the Israeli government hasn’t “a leg to stand on” in their detention of Irish citizens, who he says must be released immediately.

“If any harm comes to any of our citizens, it will have the most serious consequences,” said the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach says the claims of self-defence by Israel do not appear to be borne by the facts, and called on Israel to immediately arrange for the unconditional release of the five Irish citizens who remain in a detention camp, awaiting deportation.

Asked if action should be taken on expelling the Israeli ambassador here, or withdrawing ours from Tel Aviv, Mr Cowen says the continued presence of diplomatic personnel is essential to protect Irish citizens.

Egypt Lifts Its Side Of Gaza Blockade

(AP) CAIRO — An Egyptian official says the government is temporarily lifting its blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow aid into the area a day after Israel raided an international flotilla carrying supplies to the Palestinian territory and killed nine activists.

The governor of northern Sinai, Murad Muwafi, says President Hosni Mubarak ordered the opening of the border crossing to Gaza in the town of Rafah for several days.

Muwafi says the opening of the crossing – which Egypt sealed after Gaza was taken over by Hamas militants in 2007 – is an effort to “alleviate the suffering of our Palestinian brothers after the Israeli attack” on the flotilla.

Gaza flotilla raid draws furious response from Turkey’s prime minister

‘Special relationship’ in tatters as Erdogan demands that Israel be punished for ‘bloody massacre’

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel had to ‘absolutely be punished by all means’. Photograph: Umit Bektas/ReutersTurkey‘s prime minister rounded passionately on Israel today, demanding that the Netanyahu government be punished for the attack on the Gaza flotilla, and accusing it of massacre, lies, and destroying all prospects of peace in the Middle East.

“Israel cannot clean the blood off its hands through any excuse,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness. This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse.”

The trenchant warnings, in remarks to the Turkish parliament and cabinet in Ankara after Erdogan rushed home from a truncated Latin America tour, suggested the “special” relationship between Israel and the rising Muslim power straddling the Middle East and Europe is dead.

Turkish analysts viewed the flotilla attack as a tipping point in the balance of power in the Middle East, with Israel finally forfeiting its “strategic” links with an emerging regional power.

Relations between Turkey and Israel, close for decades, have been under strain since early last year when the Israeli onslaught on Gaza left 1,400 people dead. Erdogan felt personally betrayed by the Israeli invasion.

The flotilla attack looks like the final straw, ending a period of almost 20 years when Turkey played a crucial role as Israel’s Muslim ally, discreetly seeking to mediate between Israel and its Arab foes, and acting as an American proxy in places where Washington hesitated to go.

“Today is a turning point,” said the prime minister to repeated applause in Ankara. “They once again showed their ability to perpetrate slaughters … We warn Israel not to test Turkey’s patience.” Israel had to “absolutely be punished by all means,” he said.

Erdogan tapped the strong emotions erupting in Turkey where support for the Palestinians is total, but where the elite has also traditionally maintained good relations with Israel.

The Israeli attack was on a Turkish boat. Most of the dead were Turks. The flotilla was organised by a large Islamist charity based in a region of Istanbul which is militantly Muslim. The charity is said to be close to Erdogan’s governing AK party.

“Any establishment in Turkey, including the army, will not be able to explain any kind of co-operation with Israel to the public. This interception killed the possibility of working together on any subject,” Ihsan Dagi, an analyst at the Middle East Technical University, told the Zaman daily newspaper.

Beneath the wave of popular revulsion and anger at the Israeli attack, the government is pursuing a highly dynamic foreign policy enhancing its growing clout across the region. “Blood has been spilt. This is eye-popping,” said Hugh Pope, Turkey and Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group in Istanbul. “We’re moving into a new era.”

The chill in relations with Israel started in January last year with the assault on Gaza. A few days before the invasion, Ehud Olmert, then Israeli prime minister, was sitting in Ankara at Erdogan’s residence. The Turkish leader felt stabbed in the back. In Davos in Switzerland, Erdogan stormed out of a debate with Israel’s president. Shimon Peres, saying: “They know well how to kill.”

Last year Ankara cancelled major military exercises with Israel.

Things deteriorated further this year when Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, humiliated the Turkish ambassador by deliberately placing him in a low seat and upbraiding him about a soap opera on Turkish TV in front of cameras. Ayalon told the cameramen it was important that people saw the ambassador lower “while we’re up high”.

Some prominent Turks saw the flotilla attack as deliberately targeted at Ankara.

“A message was to be delivered to Turkey when armed force was applied although there was no need for it. The message here was to make sure that Turkey is taught a lesson,” wrote Mehmet Ali Birand, a prominent commentator. “This incident will ignite our tense relationship. There is no way of fixing it. From now on we won’t be able to speak of a Turkish-Israeli alliance. Yes Turkey will be hurt, but Israel even more. The bill for losing an ally like Turkey will be very heavy.”

Ankara recently set down a marker as a key regional player by surprising the Americans with the announcement of a nuclear fuel processing deal with Iran and Brazil, extending its influence on one of the Middle East’s biggest crises – the Iranian nuclear issue.

“Erdogan is making a big play to become the leader of the Islamic street. The Egyptians are not happy. We need to watch this dynamic very closely,” said a senior European diplomat.

Witnesses cast doubt on Israel’s convoy raid account


Israeli army footage showing the violence on board the flotilla – the captions and circled points on this video were inserted by the Israeli army

Eyewitness accounts from ships raided by Israeli commandos have cast doubt on Israel’s version of events that led to the deaths of at least nine people.

German pro-Palestinian activist Norman Paech said he had only seen wooden sticks being brandished as troops abseiled on to the deck of the ship.

Israel says its soldiers were attacked with “knives, clubs and other weapons” and opened fire in self-defence.

The raid led to widespread condemnation and the UN has called for an inquiry.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Washington would support an Israeli investigation of the raid, but said it must be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent”, as called for by the UN.

The six ships, carrying aid and campaigners, had sailed from Cyprus in a bid to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel seized more than 670 people with the ships and deported 50 on Tuesday. The Israeli cabinet later announced that all those still being held would be deported within 48 hours.

‘Act of piracy’

Speaking as he arrived back in Berlin wrapped in a blue blanket, Mr Paech, a member of a German opposition party, said Israel’s operation “was not an act of self-defence”.

“Personally I saw two-and-a-half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives.

“This was an attack in international waters on a peaceful mission… This was a clear act of piracy,” he added.

Mr Paech had been a passenger on the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara where most, if not all, of the deaths occurred.

Fellow German activist Inge Hoeger said they had been on the ships “for peaceful purposes”.

“We wanted to transport aid to Gaza,” she said. “No-one had a weapon.”


Continue reading the main story Mavi Marmara just before it left Istanbul on 22 May

  • The UN Charter on the Law of the Sea says only if a vessel is suspected to be transporting weapons, or weapons of mass destruction, can it be boarded in international waters. Otherwise the permission of the ship’s flag carrying nation must be sought.
  • The charter allows for naval blockades, but the effect of the blockade on civilians must be proportionate to the effect on the military element for the blockade to be legally enforceable.
  • A ship trying to breach a blockade can be boarded and force may be used to stop it as long as it is “necessary and proportionate”.
  • The Israeli Defense Forces say soldiers acted in self-defence.
  • An investigation, either by the UN or by the ship’s flag-carrier Turkey, is required to find if the use of force was proportionate to a claim of self defence.

Q&A: Israeli raid on aid flotilla Israeli raid: What went wrong? Guide: Gaza under blockade Convoy raid sparks press fury In pictures: Aid flotilla raid protests

She added: “We were aware that this would not be a simple cruise across the sea to deliver the goods to Gaza. But we did not count on this kind of brutality.”

Activist Bayram Kalyon, arriving back in Istanbul, had also been a passenger on the Mavi Marmara.

“The captain… told us ‘They are firing randomly, they are breaking the windows and entering inside. So you should get out of here as soon as possible’. That was our last conversation with him.”

Meanwhile, in Nazareth, Israeli Arab MP Haneen Zuabi – who was on the flotilla – told a press conference that Israeli forces began firing while still in the helicopters hovering over the ships.

“We are calling for an international committee to investigate this tragedy,” she said.

Diplomatic sources in Ankara have said at least four of those killed were Turkish. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the assault was a “bloody massacre” and must be punished. He said Israel should not test Turkey’s patience.

Further criticism of Israel came from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

In an interview with the AFP news agency, he said Israel’s blockade of Gaza was responsible for the deadly raid.

“Had Israelis heeded to my call and to the call of the international community by lifting the blockade of Gaza, this tragic incident would not have happened,” he said.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Israel to release people and boats it had seized.

He spoke after an emergency meeting of Nato ambassadors in Brussels called by Turkey.

Gaza violence

Renewed violence broke out in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, with five Palestinians reportedly killed by Israeli fire.

Two Palestinian gunmen were shot dead after crossing the border in the south of the territory, a military spokesman said.

Three more people died in an Israeli strike in the north of Gaza, according to Gaza’s emergency services. Israel said it had carried out an air strike after two rockets were fired from Gaza.

Following the Israeli sea-born raid, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to be opened.

The Rafah crossing has been closed since 2007, although special medical cases are occasionally allowed through.

The Egyptian state news agency said the latest opening was to allow humanitarian aid through. It is not clear how long it will be kept open.

The UN Security Council issued its statement after deliberating through Monday night.


Continue reading the main story Jon Donnison

Jon Donnison
BBC News, Israel

Here at Beersheva prison in the Negev Desert, in the sweltering heat, a procession of foreign diplomats and lawyers has been trying to gain access to the prisoners.

Most have been let in and so has a party from the International Red Cross. Those who have come out have not said much more than that they have been able to see their prisoners.

Behind the blue and white 8m-high concrete walls, more than 600 people are being held.

For how long and to what purpose is not yet clear. Perspiring journalists can be seen scanning the Israeli newspapers, the headlines reading “Botched raid on Free Gaza Flotilla” and “Flotilla Fiasco”.

It said an investigation should be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent”. It also condemned the “acts” which led to the deaths.

Barbara Plett, the BBC’s UN correspondent in New York, said the statement was the result of a compromise between Turkey and the US, Israel’s closest ally.

In its defence, Israel released footage showing soldiers landing on the Turkish ship and being apparently attacked.

Captain Arye Shalicar of the Israel Defense Forces, who was part of Monday’s operation, says the commandos began the raids armed with paintball guns.

“I was, myself, on one of the boats, the Israeli boats, approaching the flotilla,” he told the BBC’s World Today programme.

“It is true that the Israeli commander unit… came on board with paintball weapons… in order to disperse [people] if there was violence. They were ready for a violent… demonstration on board the flotilla, especially on the big boat, the Marmara.

“No-one really expected that there would be such a violent outcome of what happened.

“First, you know, the soldiers tried to disperse, but in the end when they were shot at, you know when there was shooting… from the other side, there’s no other way than turning from paint ball to live ammunition.”

The Israeli government has accused the activists of having links to Islamist groups.




The flotilla of six ships, including the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza carrying supplies including cement, paper and water purification tablets.

As the flotilla, still in international waters, neared Gaza, Israeli commandos intercepted the boats from air and sea. This image shows a soldier rappelling from a helicopter onto the upper deck of the ferry.

The Israelis say their soldiers were set upon and beaten with bats, chairs and metal poles as soon as they boarded the Mavi Marmara. Activists say the soldiers attacked them first.

As the incident escalated, the Israelis used live weapons on the activists, although the exact circumstances are unclear. This still from Turkish TV footage shows first aid being given to an injured activist.

At the end of the incident at least nine activists were dead. Israel escorted the flotilla to the port of Ashdod and detained the protesters. An online maritime tracking map shows the route taken by the boats.
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Video has emerged showing some on board the aid ship shouting anti-Jewish and radical Islamist slogans as they prepared to sail to Gaza last Friday.

The pictures, from Arabic TV, showed the campaigners in a jubilant mood. One said she was determined either to get to Gaza or to die a martyr.

Of the 679 activists brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod, only 50 agreed to be voluntarily deported and more than 30 are being treated in hospital for their injuries, reports the BBC’s Wyre Davies in Jerusalem.

That means that almost 600 people, from several countries, are still being held in detention centres across Israel and being questioned by the authorities.