SHIP 2 GAZA: As Turkish photographer is buried, other journalists aboard flotilla speak out

Journalists who were aboard the humanitarian flotilla that was intercepted by Israeli naval commandoes on 31 May have been recounting their experiences. At the same time, Turkish journalist Cevdet Kiliçlar, who was fatally shot at the start of the assault of the Mavi Marmara, one of vessels in the flotilla, was buried in Istanbul on 4 June. A news photographer who graduated from Marmara University’s Faculty of Communication, Kiliçlar had worked in the past for such Islamist newspapers as Selam (Salute), Vakit (Time) and Milli Gazete (National Newspaper) and had applied for an official press card while working for Milli Gazete.

For the past year he had worked for the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a Turkish NGO, as press officer and website editor. He was killed by a single shot to the head fired at close range by an Israeli soldier.

The Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS) has protested against Kiliçlar’s death, which it says should be treated as a murder, and has called for an investigation to establish the exact circumstances in which he was killed.

All the journalists who were detained by the Israeli authorities have now been deported from Israel and many of them have been talking about what they went through.

Mediha Olgun (Turkish woman journalist with the daily Sabah):

“I was released 72 hours after the start of the military operation. I was forced to go back into my cabin where they gave me a full search. They cut into the heels of my shoes to see if I had hidden anything there. That is how they found the copies of the photos we had kept. They seized my laptop, my camera and mobile phone. They only thing I was able to hold on to was my passport. They also took our photos.”

Ayse Sarioglu (Turkish woman journalist with the daily Taraf):

“I was terrified when I saw Kiliçlar on the ground. That is when I cried… They searched absolutely everything. From the boat, they took us to a large shed in the port of Ashdod, where we were interrogated. I was humiliated by a policeman, although there was a woman officer there who was very polite. While interrogating me, he spat on me and called me an idiot. He even pulled my tongue. I could not believe my eyes, it was so inhuman!

“They accused us of being within 10 miles of Israeli territory. I replied that we were 70 miles away and in international waters. ‘You knew that Gaza was forbidden.’ I replied: ‘Yes, but I did not come here because I wanted to. I am a journalist and it is my job.’ ‘It is of little importance that you are a journalist. You have broken a rule.’ They asked me to sign a statement but I refused, asking for a translator from the Turkish embassy. ‘Whether you sign or not, you will be deported.’ We were searched meticulously, between our toes, in our hair, under our gums, under the tongue and so on. They took us to Beer Sheva prison. I was questioned again. They asked me if I was a member of Hamas or Al Qaeda. They also asked me if there were Palestinians in my family.

“I was able to call and talk to my family for just one minute and in English. On the afternoon of the next day, I was put in contact with Turkish embassy officials. We spent a second night in a prison cell. The next morning, they woke us at 6 a.m., gave us our passports and took us by bus to Ben Gurion airport.”

Erhan Sevenler (Turkish journalist with the semi-official news agency Anatolia-AA):

“When we learned of the presence of military boats and a submarine nearby, we began to take measures. All the journalists gathered at the stern of the boat to be able to film what was going to happen. At around 4 a.m., 15 to 20 zodiacs surrounded the ship. Very quickly, a helicopter lowered commandoes to the bridge. As I rushed towards the bridge, people aboard our ship grabbed a soldier. Until that moment, I thought they were firing rubber bullets. That is when I realised they were firing live rounds. The windows of the bridge exploded under the impact of the bullets. The journalists then sought refuge in the office reserved for the press.”

Yücel Velioglu (Turkish journalist with the AA news agency):

“There were three doors to the journalists’ office, two of which were locked. The soldiers knew how to enter the office because we had given them a clear explanation. But they deliberately broke down one of the locked doors. We had a cameras round our necks and our press cards in our hands, but the soldiers kept aiming the lasers of their guns at our eyes in order to intimidate us… That lasted about 45 minutes.”

Marcello Faraggi, an Italian journalist who heads a media production company in Brussels, was aboard the Eleftheri Mesogeios (“Free Mediterranean Sea), one of cargo boats in the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla, reporting for the TV station Euronews. He described what he experienced to Reporters Without Borders:

“When we left Athens, I was on the passenger ship, the Sfendoni. Once we reached Rhodes, I switched to the freighter carrying humanitarian aid, the Eleftheri Mesogeios, which was flying the Greek and Swedish flags. There were 29 of us aboard it, including two other journalists, Mario Damolin, who was working for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Maria Psara, a Greek journalist working for a newspaper that supports the Greek socialist party. There were also some well-known people from Greece and Sweden, including the novelist Henning Mankel.

“The Israeli army intervened at 4:30 a.m. on 31 May, when we were still in international waters. Two helicopters dropped smoke bombs. Several zodiac boats without lights began to circulate among the boats in the flotilla. It seemed like something in a movie but it was real. Real as in war. I heard someone shout: ‘They are firing real bullets. Not just smoke bombs! Real bullets!’ Meanwhile the Marmara just continued on the same course.

“At 6:30 a.m., as the sun was rising, an Israeli army boat circled us. Loudspeakers screamed that we should surrender, that we were putting the boat’s safety in danger. The zodiacs did not stop circling around us. Soldiers climbed on to the cargo. We had gathered in the captain’s cabin. They asked us to surrender. Most of us complied. Those who refused were hit by the soldiers, targeted by the rifle lasers and handcuffed with plastic straps.

“I kept filming all this while. When the soldiers saw me, they grabbed the camera out of my hands, they confiscated it along with the cassettes I had on me. ‘We will give them back to you at the port,’ they said. I told them I was a journalist and showed my international press card but to no avail. It made no difference. After being briefly interrogated in the captain’s office, we three journalists joined the other passengers, who were assembled on the deck. The boat set course for Ashdod. But in we took nearly 10 hours to arrive and in the meantime we were all on the deck like animals.

“When we arrived at the port of Ashdod at around 3:30 p.m. there were masses of people there. Lots of soldiers filmed us as we got off the boat. We felt like animals in a zoo. When I showed my press card, a cassette was returned to me. We were put in a bus and driven to a space where they were lots of tents. Soldiers asked me to undress. They confiscated other material from me. There were five or six or us who had to undress at the same time. It was humiliating. I refused to submit to a medical inspection. I was then asked to sign a document in English. As an Italian, I asked if I could have an Italian translation. They laughed in my face.

“Then they put us in a truck used for transferring prisoners. We waited for more than an hour squeezed against each other inside the truck, under the sun, without air conditioning. Only when night fell did the army transfer us to Beer Sheva, where we were again searched on our arrival. They gave us a few raw vegetables, some water to drink, pieces of soap and shampoo in sachets. We were given no chance to call a lawyer or contact our embassies.

“Embassy representative came on Tuesday afternoon. But that was when we were about to be taken before a judge. Everyone was in the same room, a sort of big hanger. It was really noisy! We were transferred to Ben Gurion airport on Wednesday morning. In the bus, a Czech journalist wanted to go to the toilet. A soldier laughed at him. I tried to intervene because I had my international press card on me, but in vain.

“On the plane, they made us sign a statement in English recognising that we had entered Israeli territory illegally. Then my passport was returned to me. I saw that some people were given only a photocopy of their passport. Although we had boarded the plane at 1:30 p.m., we did not take off until about midnight. Rumours circulated all this while, including one about an Italian journalist being beaten by soldiers. We were finally flown to Istanbul.

“On our arrival at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, they told us our bags had arrived. I found that my camera bag was sealed, so I asked airport officials to open it so that they could witness what I found inside. The bag was full of old clothes and rubbish. My camera was not there.

“Yesterday, 8 June, I went to the Brussels police to report that I had been the victim of armed robbery. I lost more than 20,000 euros of equipment on this job. I was aboard that boat as a journalist, not an activist. The Israeli soldiers are guilty of an act of piracy.”

“Today the chief of police called to say that it was wrong on the part of the police officer to have registered my complaint yesterday inasmuch as the Belgian authorities could not do anything. He nonetheless added that, since I had been given a copy of my statement, with a registration number, the police would transfer their report to the prosecutor’s office ‘for information’.”

Photos by Marcello Faraggi:

Ref: Reporters without borders

VIDEO: This Time We Went Too Far (Gaza masscre)

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Finkelstein announces study findings on Gaza massacre


Norman Finkelstein: A History of Violence – Part 1

American Radical the trials of Norman Finkelstein

Why Israel wont let News Reporters into Gaza


Wounded Gaza family lay bleeding for 20 hours

Three hours after the Israel Defense Forces began their ground operation in the Gaza Strip, at about 10:30 P.M. Saturday night, a shell or missile hit the house owned by Hussein al A’aiedy and his brothers. Twenty-one people live in the isolated house, located in an agricultural area east of Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood. Five of them were wounded in the strike: Two women in their eighties (his mother and aunt), his 14-year-old son, his 13-year-old niece and his 10-year-old nephew.

Twenty hours later, the wounded were still bleeding in a shed in the courtyard of the house. There was no electricity, no heat, no water. Their relatives were with them, but every time they tried to leave the courtyard to fetch water, the army shot at them.

Al A’aiedy tried to summon help on his cell phone, but Gaza’s cell phone network is collapsing. Shells have hit transponders, there is no electricity and no diesel fuel to run the generators. Every time the telephone works, it is a minor miracle.

At about noon Sunday, Al A’aiedy finally managed to reach S., who called me. There was nothing else that S., who lives nearby, could do.

I had known Al A’aiedy for eight years, and I called Physicians for Human Rights. They called the IDF’s liaison office to ask it to arrange to have the wounded evacuated. That was shortly after noon – and as of press time, the liaison office had still not called PHR back.

Meanwhile, someone else had managed to reach the Red Crescent Society. It called the Red Cross and asked it to coordinate the evacuation of the wounded with the IDF. That was at 10:30 A.M. – and as of press time Sunday night, the Red Cross had still not been able to do so.

While I was on the phone with PHR, at about noon, H. called. He just wanted to report: Two children, Ahmed Sabih and Mohammed al-Mashharawi, aged 10 and 11, had gone up on the roof of their Gaza City house to heat water over a fire. There is no electricity or gas, so fire is all that remains.

Tanks are spitting shells, helicopters are raining fire, warplanes are causing earthquakes. But it is still hard for people to grasp that heating water has become no less dangerous than joining Hamas’ military wing.

An IDF missile hit the two boys, killing Ahmed and seriously wounding Mohammed. Later Sunday, an Internet news site reported that both had died. But H.’s cell phone was not answering, so I could not verify that report.

And there was no point in trying H.’s land line: A bomb destroyed his neighborhood’s entire phone system on Saturday. The target was a print shop (yet another of the IDF’s “military” targets). Its owner, a retired UNRWA employee, had invested his entire pension in the shop.

In B.’s neighborhood, the bombs hit the water mains, so she has had no water since yesterday morning. “I’m already used to coping without electricity,” she said. “There’s no television, but I hear what happens from friends who call. One friend called from Lebanon, another from Haifa. And Ramallah. But without water, how will we manage?”

A. offered his own take on the situation: “I keep the children away from the windows because the F-16s are in the air; I forbid them to play below because it’s dangerous. They’re bombing us from the sea and from the east, they’re bombing us from the air. When the telephone works, people tell us about relatives or friends who were killed. My wife cries all the time. At night she hugs the children and cries. It’s cold and the windows are open; there’s fire and smoke in open areas; at home there’s no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?”

Red: Haaretz


No that is not normal.
But that is Israel for you; hatred, racism, aggression, aparthied, militarism, colonialism aso.
That is israeli banality for you.
What a wounderful thing zionism is…

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URGENT! Israeli Navy Attacking Civilian Mercy Ship!

The Dignity, a Free Gaza boat on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, is being attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters. The Dignity has been surrounded by at least half-a-dozen Israeli warships. They are firing live ammunition around the Dignity, and one of the warships has rammed the civilian craft causing an unknown amount of damage. Contrary to international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to Cyprus – despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do so. Fortunately, no one aboard the ship has yet been seriously injured.

There are 15 civilian passengers representing 11 different countries. At approximately 5am (UST), well out in international waters, Israeli warships began surrounding the Dignity, threatening the ship. At 6:45am (UST) we were able to establish brief contact with the crew and were told that the ship had been rammed by the Israeli Navy in international waters, and that the Israelis were preventing the ship from finding safe harbor. We heard heavy gunfire in the background before all contact was lost with the Dignity.

It is urgent that you TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION!

URGENT! Israeli Navy Attacking Civilian Mercy Ship! TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY!

The Dignity, a Free Gaza boat on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, is being attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters. The Dignity has been surrounded by at least half-a-dozen Israeli warships. They are firing live ammunition around the Dignity, and one of the warships has rammed the civilian craft causing an unknown amount of damage. Contrary to international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to Cyprus – despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do so. Fortunately, no one aboard the ship has yet been seriously injured.

There are 15 civilian passengers representing 11 different countries (see below for a complete list). At approximately 5am (UST), well out in international waters, Israeli warships began surrounding the Dignity, threatening the ship. At 6:45am (UST) we were able to establish brief contact with the crew and were told that the ship had been rammed by the Israeli Navy in international waters, and that the Israelis were preventing the ship from finding safe harbor. We heard heavy gunfire in the background before all contact was lost with the Dignity.

It is urgent that you TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION!

CALL the Israeli Government and demand that it immediately STOP attacking the Dignity and endangering the lives of its passengers!

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5062 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
+972 33697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Dignity departed from Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7pm (UST) on Monday 29 December, bound for war-devastated Gaza with a cargo of over 3 tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated by the people of Cyprus. At our request, the ship was searched by Cypriot Port authorities prior to departure, to certify that there was nothing “threatening” aboard – only emergency medical supplies.

TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY TO STOP THE ISRAELI NAVY FROM ENDANGERING THE DIGNITY AND ITS PASSENGERS!

Civilians aboard the Dignity being threatened by the Israeli military:

(UK) Denis Healey, Captain
Captain of the Dignity, Denis has been involved with boats for 45 years, beginning with small fishing boats in Portsmouth. He learned to sail while atschool and has been part of the sea ever since. He’s a certified yachtmaster and has also worked on heavy marine equipment from yachts to large dredgers. This is his fourth trip to Gaza.

(Greece) Nikolas Bolos, First Mate
Nikolas is a chemical engineer and human rights activist. He has served as a crewmember on several Free Gaza voyages, including the first one in August.

(Jordan) Othman Abu Falah
Othman is a senior producer with Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(Australia) Renee Bowyer
Renee is a schoolteacher and human rights activist. She will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(Ireland) Caoimhe Butterly
Caoimhe is a reknowned human rights activist and Gaza Coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement. She will be remaining in Gaza to do human rights monitoring, assist with relief efforts, and work on project development with Free Gaza.

(Cyprus) Ekaterini Christodulou
Ekaterini is a well-known and respected freelance journalist in Cyprus. She is traveling to Gaza to report on the conflict.

(Sudan) Sami El-Haj
Sami is a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and head of the human rights section at Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(UK) Dr. David Halpin
Dr. Halpin is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

(Germany) Dr. Mohamed Issa
Dr. Issa is a pediatric surgeon from Germany. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

(UK/Tunisia) Fathi Jaouadi
Fathi is a television producer and human rights activist. He will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(USA) Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia is a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, and the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict.

(Cyprus) Martha Paisi
Martha is a senior research fellow and experienced human rights activist. She is traveling to Gaza to do human rights work and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.

(UK) Karl Penhaul
Karl Penhaul is a video correspondent for CNN, based out of Bogotá, Colombia. Appointed to this position in February 2004, he covers breaking news around the world utilizing CNN’s new laptop-based ‘Digital Newsgathering’ system. He is traveling to Gaza to report on the ongoing conflict.

(Iraq) Thaer Shaker
Thaer is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(Cyprus) Dr. Elena Theoharous, MP
Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.
###

Ref: Free Gaza

Perspective on Gaza; knowledge carries responsibility! (Never say you didn´t know!!!)

Conditions in the Gaza Strip continue to worsen – 17 Mar 08

Exclusive Al Jazeera footage from Gaza – 25 May 07

Palestinians killed in Israeli raids into Gaza – 16 April 08

Gaza violence escalates – 17 Jan 08

Israeli air raids disrupt Gazan lives – 19 Jan 08

Action, reaction, solidarity, demonstrations, boycotte; WE ARE THE CHANGE FOR LIFE!

In every town/captial there will demonstrations against Israel and for peace!
Join in!

In every supermarket, make sure that you don´t buy any Israeli fruit or
other goods!

In every way you can, make sure that you take a position for Palestine´s right
to live in peace and freedom. Knowledges carries responsibility. Now more then
ever when the 60 years of Isreali genocide, apartheid system and colonalism have got
the Palestine on it´s knees, now is the time for US to really make a change.
Never mind Obamba with his proIsraeli cabinette. We are the change. We
make the differance. We say yes to life and no to the death machine that
Israel is.

Wake up!
Before it´s too late this time…

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195 killed and counting…

“Israel wishes to make clear that it will continue to act against terrorist operations and missile fire from the Strip which is intended to harm civilians.”

“We face a period that will be neither easy nor short, and will require determination and perseverance until the necessary change is achieved in the situation in the south,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

In statements Thursday, senior security officials were unwavering. “Anyone who harms Israeli citizens and soldiers will pay the price,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, speaking at the graduation of a pilots’ training course at Hazerim Air Force Base, said, “We will have to use all of our might against the terror infrastructure and create a different security reality around the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinians: At least 170 dead, over 200 hurt in IAF Gaza strikes


i am furious.
i will go to the Israeli embassy and through shoes at them.
First I will walk in dog shit.

enough is enough.
the Israeli hatred, racisim, colonialism MUST stop.
either we bomb them as they bomb the palestines or we force them to actually follow international law and human rights.

Viva PALESTINE!

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