Sense of Deception

Detained flotilla activists denied lawyer

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Rights groups have expressed concern over the continued detention of 480 passengers from the six Freedom Flotilla ships, reportedly moved to the Ela Prison in Israel’s south.

Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz said Tuesday that so far 50 of the Flotilla passengers had been voluntarily repatriated to their home countries, while some 629 had refused to be deported and would remain in Israeli prison until the nation decided what, if any, legal action would be taken.

Critics say Israel has little ground to lay charges, and by refusing to be deported and demanding to be returned to their ships and proceed to Gaza, activists put Israel in a difficult position.

According to a statement from the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, none of the activists were permitted to meet with lawyers, and Free Gaza updates say no contact with the crew of the ship had been made since 3:30am Monday morning.

As a response, three human rights organizations submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court.

The petition seeks to ensure that the passengers have access to lawyers and proper health facilities, and to ensure that information about the hundreds of men and women is released to their consulates and families.

Israeli media said that the 480 would be questioned Tuesday morning, and investigators would determine whether or not they would be charged or deported. Reports say 48 have already been deported, but there is no information suggesting that any have had contact with either their consulates or the media.

It remains unclear what the activists would be charged with, as lawyers and rights experts say ships in international waters have the right to defend themselves if attacked.

Media outlets also reported that Palestinian citizens of Israel Sheikh Raed Salah, Muhammad Zeidan and Hammad Abu Da’bas will stand in Israeli court later Tuesday, where they will hear charges against them.

Sheikh Raed Salah, Muhammad Zeidan and Hammad Abu Da’bas to stand in Israeli court and hear charges against them Tuesday afternoon, Israeli media says.

Other Palestinian figures whose whereabouts has been reported on include Kamal Khatib, who is reportedly detained at Ela Prison, and Hanin Zubi, who was questioned and released.

A statement from Al-Mezan said that because the flotilla was intercepted in international waters, Israel has no right to detain the passengers of the boats, with the center’s lawyer describing the treatment akin to how Israel “treats illegal immigrants; offering them voluntarily deportation from Israel by planes.”

The reports said early indicators show that most of the activists have refused deportation and insist on returning to their ships to come to Gaza.

Al-Mezan said it expects all of the passengers to appear before a judge on Tuesday, where their detentions can be extended by 72 hours, adding that ‘the situation for a handful of Palestinian citizens of Israel is different. They are detained in Ashkelon prison and are being interrogated.”

Activists detained, imprisoned, questioned

Investigations by Al-Mezan revealed that after the passengers of the ships were seized by Israeli officers, they were kept in a detention facility in the port of the town of Ashdod in southern Israel. The port area was declared a closed military zone, a lawyer for the center said, meaning legal council for the foreign nationals was prohibited.


US should condemn Israeli raid, push for immediate talks


THE ISRAELI raid that killed at least nine activists who sought to break the blockade of Gaza is a turning point in the Middle East. The likeliest reaction is a new wave of terrorism and conflict. The less likely — but absolutely critical — reaction should be a renewed commitment to the peace process. No event could demonstrate more clearly to all parties that the current situation on the West Bank and in Gaza is not sustainable, and that a two-state agreement is essential for world peace.

The United States’ overwhelming goal is to bring about peace talks. Arab allies in the Middle East are eager for the Obama administration to join in international condemnation of Israel, and such a yearning is justified. The attack on a flotilla of ships in international waters off Gaza was unnecessarily provocative. The 600 activists, from many nations, on board the ships clearly intended to try to break an Israeli blockade and provide supplies to Palestinians in Gaza. But Israel didn’t wait for the ships to reach Israeli territory; launching a military raid in international waters was a disproportionate response. Israel bears responsbility for the loss of life. It is reasonable to inquire whether Israeli soldiers feared for their lives before firing. But the Israeli army, in ordering the raid, had to know that bloodshed was a possible outcome.

At the same time, the United States must make clear that Israel’s adversaries will gain more by restraint than by any corresponding act of violence. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come under intense international pressure to resolve the standoff in Gaza and to move toward peace in the West Bank. That means other nations must do all that is in their power to get Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table as quickly as possible.

The United States should condemn the Israeli attack, but with the overall goal of moving Israel and the Palestinians toward negotiations. The best interests of the United States and Israel and the other nations of the Middle East are aligned. They are in favor of a two-state peace agreement. Every action by President Obama should be dedicated to that purpose.

US veteran on board ‘Liberty’ was flotilla passenger


Man who served on ship bombed by Israel during 1967 war is missing in aftermath of flotilla clashes

News agencies

Published: 06.01.10, 09:13 / Israel News
// A US Navy veteran who was on board the USS Liberty, which Israel attacked during the Six Day War, is now missing after taking part in the conflict-ridden flotilla, US news agencies reported Tuesday.

Sixty-three year-old Joe Miduras, of the Texas town of Corpus Christi, has not yet made contact with his wife, Jean. She has so far remained unconcerned, however, saying she didn’t think he had been hurt.

Miduras was a soldier on board the USS Liberty, which came under fire by Israeli warplanes and torpedoes on the fourth day of the 1967 war. As a result, 34 crew members were killed. “We have no luck with Israelis,” his wife joked.

One other American man, a former diplomat, was also on board the flotilla. Eighty-one year-old Edward Peck, of Maryland, was the US ambassador to Mauritania and also served in the State Department during the Reagan presidency.

He is currently on his way home. His wife says she received an email from the Foreign Ministry saying Peck was in good condition, and estimated that he would be home on Tuesday.

On board the Marmara were also two Australian journalists, Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty. Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Alan Oakley, said the two had been taken to Ela Prison in Beersheba.

He said he had had no contact with the two since Monday’s incidents. Oakley added that the Irish and Australian embassies in Israel would take care of the two, who are also Irish citizens.

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Oakley said the journalists had participated in the flotilla as part of their jobs as reporters. “I hope the authorities respect their rights,” he said.

The Immigration Authority said Tuesday that there had been 679 passengers from 40 different countries on board the boats, most of them Turkish and Greek. The youngest passenger was a two-year old child. Nine were killed and more than 40 injured during the clashes, seven of them IDF soldiers.

Lebanon fires on Israeli warplanes: security official


Flares trail an Israeli warplane east of the southern Lebanese port of Tyre in 2006. Lebanon's military fired anti-aircraft artillery at Israeli warplanes that were flying over Lebanon, a senior Israeli security official said on Tuesday.

Lebanon’s military fired anti-aircraft artillery at Israeli warplanes that were flying over Lebanon, a senior Israeli security official said on Tuesday.

“Our aircraft have been targeted by the Lebanese anti-aircraft guns while flying over southern Lebanon, and there was no damage,” the official who requested the anonymity told AFP.

A military spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Lebanon issues almost daily reports of Israeli violations of its air space, but its military rarely opens fire unless the planes fly within range of its guns.

The overflights violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a devastating 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah militia, but Israel argues they are needed to monitor arms smuggling.

BP stock tumbles as feds announce oil-spill probes

By MIKE KUNZELMAN and GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writers Mike Kunzelman And Greg Bluestein, Associated Press Writers Tue Jun 1, 7:24 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS – BP’s stock plummeted and took much of the market down with it Tuesday as the federal government announced criminal and civil investigations into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP engineers, meanwhile, tried to recover from a failed attempt to stop the gusher with an effort that will initially make the leak worse.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who was visiting the Gulf to survey the fragile coastline and meet with state and federal prosecutors, would not say who might be targeted in the probes into the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

“We will closely examine the actions of those involved in the spill. If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response,” Holder said in New Orleans.

BP’s stock nose-dived on Tuesday, losing nearly 15 percent of its value on the first trading day since the previous best option — the so-called “top kill” — failed and was aborted at the government’s direction. It dipped steeply with Holder’s late-afternoon announcement, which also sent other energy stocks tumbling, ultimately causing the Dow Jones industrial average to tumble 112.

After six weeks of failures to block the well or divert the oil, BP was using robotic machines to carve into the twisted appendages of the crippled well. The latest attempt involved using tools resembling an oversized deli slicer and garden shears to break away the broken riser pipe so engineers can then position a cap over the well’s opening.

Even if it succeeds, it will temporarily increase the flow of an already massive leak by 20 percent — at least 100,000 gallons more a day. And it is far from certain that BP will be able to cap a well that one expert compared to an out-of-control fire hydrant.

“It is an engineer’s nightmare,” said Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University professor of environmental sciences. “They’re trying to fit a 21-inch cap over a 20-inch pipe a mile away. That’s just horrendously hard to do. It’s not like you and I standing on the ground pushing — they’re using little robots to do this.”
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Israel should lead investigation into attack on Gaza flotilla, says US


Turkey’s demands for international inquiry blocked at meeting of United Nations security council

Binyamin ­Netanyahu Binyamin ­Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, visiting injured soldiers in a Tel Aviv hospital. Photograph: Getty ImagesThe United States has blocked demands at the UN security council for an international inquiry into Israel‘s assault on the Turkish ship carrying aid to Gaza that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

A compromise statement instead calls for an impartial investigation which Washington indicated could be carried out by Israel.

Turkey pressed for the security council to launch an investigation similar to Richard Goldstone’s inquiry into last year’s fighting in Gaza which prompted protests from Israel when it concluded that Israel and Hamas were probably guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ankara wanted the investigation into the raid on the Mavi Marmara to result in the prosecution of officials responsible for the assault and the payment of compensation to the victims.

But in hours of diplomatic wrangling, the US blocked the move and instead forced a statement that called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards”. The US representative at the security council discussions, Alejandro Wolff, indicated that Washington would be satisfied with Israel investigating itself when he called for it to undertake a credible investigation.

The Israeli government is certain to launch its own inquiry in part as a response to domestic criticism that its forces were ill-prepared for the resistance they met on the ship. But any self-inquiry is likely to be met with the same scepticism beyond Israel’s borders that met its investigations into last year’s Gaza war and its 2006 invasion of Lebanon which criticised aspects of the handling of the operations but did not challenge the underlying claim that they were essential for Israel’s security.

The Americans also blocked criticism of Israel for violating international law by assaulting a ship in international waters in the security council statement proposed by Turkey, the Palestinians and Arab nations.

The US instead forced a broader statement that condemned “those acts which resulted in the loss” of life.

However, the security council statement did criticise Israel’s siege of Gaza as “not sustainable” and called for a “sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza”.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, called the raid on the Mavi Marmara “tantamount to banditry and piracy; it is murder conducted by a state”.

The French ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, said “there was disproportionate use of force and a level of violence which nothing justifies and which we condemn”.

Wolff told the security council that the organisers of the flotilla had been irresponsible in trying to deliver aid by sea in the face of the Israeli blockade.

Turkey seeks U.S. support vs Israel on flotilla


01 Jun 2010 16:02:50 GMT

Source: Reuters

* Foreign minister likens attack to Sept. 11 * Turkish effort to mediate Syria-Israel talks on hold * U.S.-Turkey ties already strained by Iran By Andrew Quinn WASHINGTON, June 1 (Reuters) – Turkey on Tuesday pressed for stronger U.S. support after Israel’s raid on a Turkish-backed aid flotilla, saying the crisis could hit U.S. hopes for Middle East peace amid worsening tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said Ankara wanted a clear U.S. condemnation of Monday’s raid after Israeli forces killed nine people, including four Turks, while trying to stop a convoy of vessels delivering aid to the Gaza Strip. “Some of our allies are not ready to condemn the Israeli actions,” Davutoglu said. He said he was disappointed with Washington’s cautious response to an incident he likened to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. “Psychologically this attack is like 9-11 for Turkey because Turkish citizens were attacked by a state, not by terrorists, with an intention, a clear decision of political leaders of that state,” he said. “We expect full solidarity with us. It should not be a choice between Turkey and Israel. It should be a choice between right and wrong.” International fury over the flotilla attack has created a tough balancing act for the Obama administration, particularly with Turkey, a key NATO ally seen by Washington as a secular Muslim power that can counter Islamic militancy in the region. Both Turkey and Israel, the United States’ closest Middle East ally, are pivotal players on peace in the region and the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program. A rupture in relations between the two could badly complicate U.S. foreign policy. MEDIATION ON HOLD Davutoglu said he had planned to discuss relaunching indirect Israeli-Syrian peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but that the initiative was now on hold. Netanyahu scrapped his own planned Tuesday visit to Washington after the crisis erupted. “We were planning to have meetings to discuss a regional peace plan,” Davutoglu told reporters at a briefing. “But they (Israeli officials) didn’t respect the rights of individuals and they didn’t respond to our efforts to restore our relations and to restart Israeli-Syrian indirect talks. “If they don’t act, how can we convince Syria or other countries in the region that they want peace?” The United Nations has called for an impartial investigation into what happened as Israeli forces boarded the ship where the killings occurred, and Davutoglu said he would seek U.S. support for an immediate and unconditional release of all those detained in the raid. Turkey also will raise the issue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization because the incident was an attack on citizens of a NATO country by a non-NATO state, he said. The United States and Turkey already were at odds over Iran, with Turkey and Brazil pushing a new proposed atomic fuel deal for Tehran as a diplomatic alternative to the tough U.N. sanctions that Washington wants. The United States has rejected the proposal as too little, too late and says the measure does not address core concerns that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is purely peaceful. Davutoglu said on Tuesday the proposed fuel deal would be a confidence-building measure that could lead to further discussions on Iran’s nuclear plans, and rejected suggestions that Turkey and Brazil were helping Tehran to delay U.N. action on sanctions. “This is not defending Iran,” he said. “This is defending regional peace, global peace, and the national interests of Turkey.” (Editing by Bill Trott)

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Soldier making fun of Iraqi kids.


Another great documentary on how 9/11 was an inside job.

Ann Wright on the new Congress