On This Date, 11 Years Ago….
“We have been attacked while in international waters. The Israelis have behaved like pirates.The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.”
— Henning Mankell, aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and
How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict
OR Books (Publication Date: July 2021)
(June 1, 2021) — “Resistance to the Israeli occupation isn’t just confined to Palestinian villages, as the events of the May 31 Freedom Flotilla, explored magnificently in Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, show. The flotilla was an international effort that included 600 passengers from a multitude of nations, and attempted to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip by sea.
The book is a comprehensive antidote to Israel’s attempt to spin the events as a group of savage Islamist terrorists “lynching” defenseless Israeli soldiers. The reports from eyewitnesses who were aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara are clear: As the flotilla was in international waters, Israeli commandos rappelled onto the Marmara, opened fire and killed nine people …
Beyond the lucid eyewitness accounts, the book includes exceptional analyses of what the attack means and where the international solidarity movement goes from here.”
— Alex Kane, The Independent
Midnight on the Mavi Marmara
Eastern Mediterranean, May 31st, 2010, 4.30am: Israeli commandos, boarding from sea and air, attack the six boats of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla as it sails through international waters bringing humanitarian relief to the beleaguered Palestinians of Gaza. Within minutes, nine peace activists are dead, shot by the Israelis. Scores of others are injured. The 700 people on board the ships are arrested before being transported to detention centers in Israel and then deported.
Within hours, outrage at Israel’s action echoes around the world. Spontaneous demonstrations in Europe, the United States, Turkey, and Gaza itself denounce the attack. Turkey’s prime minister describes it as a “bloody massacre” and “state terrorism.” Lebanon’s prime minister calls it “a dangerous and crazy step that will exacerbate tensions in the region.”
In these pages, a range of activists, journalists, and analysts piece together the events that occurred that May night, unpicking their meanings for Israel’s illegal, three-year-long blockade of Gaza and the decades-long Israel/Palestine conflict more generally. Mixing together first-hand testimony, documentary record, and illustration, with hard-headed analysis and historical overview, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara reveals why the attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla may just turn out to be Israel’s Selma, Alabama: the beginning of the end for an apartheid Palestine.
Edited by Moustafa Bayoumi
Contributors include: Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Marsha B. Cohen, Juan Cole, Norman Finkelstein, Neve Gordon, Glenn Greenwald, Arun Gupta, Amira Hass, Nadia Hijab, Adam Horowitz, Rashid Khalidi, Iara Lee, Henning Mankell, Gideon Levy, Mike Marqusee, Kevin Ovenden, Ilan Pappé, Sara Roy, Adam Shapiro, Raja Shehadeh, Ahdaf Soueif, Alice Walker, Stephen M. Walt, Philip Weiss, and Haneen Zoabi
Video: Al Jazeera’s Report Onboard the Mavi Marmara — Before Communications Were Cut
Civilians Under Attack by Israel
This is the website of the Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years. We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.
CYPRUS (June 1, 2010, 6:30 am) — Under darkness of night, Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck. They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep. According to the live video from the ship, two have been killed, and 31 injured. Al Jazeera has just confirmed the numbers.
Streaming video shows the Israeli soldiers shooting at civilians, and our last SPOT beacon said, “HELP, we are being contacted by the Israelis.”
We know nothing about the other five boats. Israel says they are taking over the boats.
The coalition of Free Gaza Movement (FG), European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organisation , Ship to Gaza Greece, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and the International Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza appeal to the international community to demand that Israel stop their brutal attack on civilians delivering vitally needed aid to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza and permit the ships to continue on their way.
The attack has happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel, in direct violation of international law.
Israel Attacks Gaza Aid Fleet
INTERNATIONAL WATERS (May 31, 2010) — Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country’s siege on Gaza.
More than 10 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, the Israeli military said. The Israeli Army Radio had earlier said that up to 16 people had been killed.
The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast. Footage from the flotilla’s lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, showed armed Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and helicopters flying overhead.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, on board the Mavi Marmara, said Israeli troops had used live ammunition during the operation.
The Israeli military said four soldiers had been wounded, two of them moderately, and claimed troops opened fire after “demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.”
Free Gaza Movement, the organisers of the flotilla, however, said the troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the ships.
Earlier, the Israeli navy had contacted the captain of the Mavi Marmara, asking him to identify himself and say where the ship was headed. Shortly after, two Israeli naval vessels had flanked the flotilla on either side, but at a distance.
Organisers of the flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid then diverted their ships and slowed down to avoid a confrontation during the night. They also issued all passengers life jackets and asked them to remain below deck.
Al Jazeera‘s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Jerusalem, said the Israeli action was surprising. “All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with medical supplies on board. So it will surprise many in the international community to learn what could have possibly led to this type of confrontation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israeli police have been put on a heightened state of alert across the country to prevent any civil disturbances.
Condemnation has been quick to pour in after the Israeli action. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, officially declared a three-day state of mourning over Monday’s deat
Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul soon after the news of the operation broke. The protesters shouted “Damn Israel” as police blocked them. Turkey is also reported to have summoned the Israeli ambassador to lodge a protest. “(The interception on the convoy) is unacceptable … Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has also dubbed the Israeli action as “barbaric”.
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and several European legislators, were with the flotilla, aiming to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo. But Israel had said it would not allow the flotilla to reach the Gaza Strip and vowed to stop the six ships from reaching the coastal Palestinian territory.
The flotilla had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday and aimed to reach Gaza by Monday morning.
Israel said the boats were embarking on “an act of provocation” against the Israeli military, rather than providing aid, and that it had issued warrants to prohibit their entrance to Gaza. It asserted that the flotilla would be breaking international law by landing in Gaza, a claim the organisers rejected.
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