by Michel Chossudovsky
June 6, 2010
The Israeli Navy Commando had prior knowledge of
who was on the Turkish ship including where passengers were residing in
terms of cabin layout.
According to Swedish author Henning Mankell,
who was on board the Marmara,
"the Israeli forces attacked sleeping
These were targeted assassinations. Specific
individuals were targeted.
Journalists were targeted with a view to
confiscating their audio and video recording equipment and tapes.
"We were witnesses to premeditated murders,"
said historian Mattias Gardell who was on the Mavi Marmara.
"...Asked about why activists on the Turkish ship had attacked the
Israeli soldiers, Gardell stressed "it is not as if Israel is a police
officer whom no human being has the legitimate right to defend him or
"If you are attacked by commando troops you of course must have the
right to defend yourself ... Many people on this ship thought they were
going to kill everyone. They were very frightened ... It's strange if
people think one should not defend oneself. Should you just sit there
and say: 'Kill me'?" he said."
(See Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya,
Compiled Eyewitness Accounts Confirm Cold-Blooded Murder and Executions
by Israeli Military, June 1, 2010)
“They even shot those who surrendered. Many of our friends saw this.
They told me that there were handcuffed people who were shot.”
by Press TV)
The Israeli Commando had an explicit order to
What was the role of
the United States?
The raids on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, bear the mark of previous Israeli
operations directed against unarmed civilians. It is a well established
modus operandi of Israeli military-intelligence operations, which is
tacitly supported by the US administration.
The killing of civilians is intended to trigger a response by Palestinian
resistance forces, which in turn justifies Israeli retaliation (on
"humanitarian" grounds) as well as a process of military escalation. The
logic of this process was contained in Ariel Sharon's "Operation Justified
Vengeance" (also referred to as the "Dagan Plan") initiated at the outset
the Sharon government in 2001.
This Operation was intent upon destroying the
Palestinian Authority and transforming Gaza into an urban prison.
The Israeli attack on the Flotilla bears the fingerprints of a military
intelligence operation coordinated by the IDF and Mossad, which is now
headed by Meir Dagan. It is worth recalling that as a young Coronel, Dagan
worked closely with then defense minister Ariel Sharon in the raids on the
Palestinian settlements of
Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut in 1982.
There are indications that the US was consulted at the highest levels
regarding the nature of this military operation. Moreover, in the wake of
the attacks, both the US and the UK have unequivocally reaffirmed their
support to Israel.
There are longstanding and ongoing military and intelligence relations
between the US and Israel including close working ties between various
agencies of government:
...and their respective Israeli counterparts.
These various agencies of government are involved in routine liaison and
consultations, usually directly as well as through the US Embassy in Israel,
involving frequent shuttles of officials between Washington and Tel Aviv as
well as exchange of personnel.
Moreover, the US as well as Canada have public
security cooperation agreements with Israel pertaining to the policing of
international borders, including maritime borders.
The Role of Rahm
Several high level US-Israel meetings were held in the months prior to the
May 31st attacks.
Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's White House chief of Staff was in Tel Aviv a week
prior to the attacks. Confirmed by press reports, he had meetings behind
closed doors with Prime Minister Netanyahu (May 26) as well as a private
visit with President Shimon Peres on May 27.
May 26 meeting between Rahm
Emmanuel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Official statements do not indicate whether
other officials including cabinet ministers or IDF and Mossad officials were
present at the Rahm Emmanuel-Netanyahu meeting.
The Israeli press confirmed that Rahm Emmanuel
had a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose Ministry was
responsible for overseeing the Commando attack on the Flotilla. (Rahm
Emanuel visits Israel to celebrate son's bar mitzvah - Haaretz Daily
Newspaper - 23 May 2010).
The White House also confirmed that Rahm
Emmanuel was to meet other high-ranking Israeli officials, without providing
further details. (Rahm Emanuel in Israel for Son's Bar Mitzvah, May Meet
"Our Man in the White
While born in the US, Rahm Emmanuel also holds Israeli citizenship and has
served in the Israeli military during the First Gulf War (1991).
Rahm is also known for his connections to the pro-Israeli lobby in the US.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv calls him "Our Man in the White House" (quoted
Irish Times, March 13, 2010). Rahm Emmanuel gave his support to Obama in
the November 2008 presidential elections following Obama's address to the
pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC.
At the time of Rahm Emmanuel's confirmation as White House chief of staff,
there were reports in the Middle East media of Rahm Emanuel's connections to
The exact nature of Rahm Emmanuel's ties to the Israeli military and
intelligence apparatus, however, is not the main issue. What we are dealing
with is a broad process of bilateral coordination and decision-making
between the two governments in the areas of foreign policy, intelligence and
military planning, which has been ongoing for more than 50 years.
In this regard, Israel, although exercising a
certain degree of autonomy in military and strategic decisions, will not act
unilaterally, without receiving the "green light" from Washington. Rahm
Emmanuel's meetings with the prime minister and Israeli officials are part
of this ongoing process.
Rahm Emmanuel's meetings in Tel Aviv on May 26 were a routine follow-up to
visits to Washington by Prime Minister Netanyahu in March and by Minister of
Defense Ehud Barak in late April. In these various bilateral US-Israel
encounters at the White House, the state Department and the Pentagon, Rahm
Emmanuel invariably plays a key role.
While the pro-Israeli lobby in the US influences party politics in America,
Washington also influences the direction of Israeli politics. There have
been reports to the effect that Rahm Emmanuel would "lead a team of high
octane Democratic party pro-Israel political operatives to run the campaign
for the Defense Minister Ehud Barak" against Netanyahu in the next Israeli
election. (Ira Glunts,
Could Rahm Emanuel Help Barak Unseat Netanyahu?
Palestine Chronicle, June 2, 2010)
The April 27 meeting between US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Defense
Minister Barak pertained to "a range of important defense issues" directly
or indirectly related to the status of the Palestinian territories under
"As President Obama has affirmed, the United
States commitment to Israel's security is unshakable, and our defense
relationship is stronger than ever, to the mutual benefit of both
nations. The United States and our ally Israel share many of the same
security challenges, from combating terrorism to confronting the threat
posed by Iran's nuclear-weapons program.
For years, the United States and Israel have worked together to prepare
our armed forces to meet these and other challenges, a recent major
example being the Juniper Cobra joint exercise held last October. Our
work together on missile-defense technology is ongoing, and the United
States will continue to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative
(Press Conference with Secretary Gates
and Israeli Defense Minister Barak, April 2010 - Council on Foreign
Relations April 27, 2010)
These consultations pertained to ongoing
military preparations regarding Iran.
Both Israel and the US have recently announced
that a pre-emptive attack against Iran has been contemplated.
Washington views Israel as being,
"'integrated into America’s military
architecture,' especially in the missile defense sphere."
(quoted in Emanuel to rabbis:
up' Jerusalem Post, statement of Dennis Ross, who is in charge of the US
administration’s Iran policy in the White House, May 16, 2010).
The attack on the Freedom Flotilla, might appear as a separate and distinct
humanitarian issue, unrelated to US-Israeli war plans.
But from the standpoint of both Tel Aviv and
Washington, it is part of the broader military agenda. It is intended to
create conditions favoring an atmosphere of confrontation and escalation in
the Middle East war theater:
"All the signs are that Israel has been
stepping up its provocations to engineer a casus belli for a war against
Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Tel Aviv sees as unfinished
business its inconclusive wars: the first in Lebanon in 2006, and the
second in Gaza in 2008-09."
Washington Comes to the Aid
of Israel over Gaza Convoy Massacre, Global Research, June 4, 2010)
Following Israel's illegal assault in
international waters, Netanyahu stated emphatically,
"Israel will continue to exercise its right
to self defense. We will not allow the establishment of an Iranian port
in Gaza," suggesting that the Gaza blockade was part of the pre-emptive
war agenda directed against Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
(Israeli forces board Gaza aid ship the
Rachel Corrie - Telegraph, June 5, 2010, emphasis added) .
Moreover, the raid on the Flotilla coincided
with NATO-Israel war games directed against Iran.
According to the Sunday Times,
"three German-built Israeli submarines
equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf
near the Iranian coastline."
(Israel Deploys Three Nuclear Cruise
Missile-Armed Subs Along Iranian Coastline).
While Israeli naval deployments were underway in
the Persian Gulf, Israel was also involved in war games in the
The war game codenamed "MINOAS 2010" was carried
out at a Greek air base in Souda Bay, on the island of Crete.
Earlier in February, the Israeli air force,
"practiced simulated strikes at Iran's
nuclear facilities using airspace of two Arab countries in the Persian
Gulf, which are close territorially with the Islamic republic and
cooperate with Israel on this issue."
War Games: Israel gets ready
to Strike at Iran's Nuclear Sites, March 29, 2010
Also, in the wake of the final resolution of the
2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation
directed against Israel's nuclear weapons program, the White House has
reaffirmed its endorsement of Israel's nuclear weapons capabilities.
Washington's statement issued one day before the
raid on the flotilla points to unbending US support to "Israel's strategic
and deterrence capabilities", which also include the launching of a
pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran:
"a senior political source in Jerusalem said
Sunday that Israel received guarantees from U.S. President Barack Obama
that the U.S. would maintain and improve Israel's strategic and
According to the source, "Obama gave [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu
unequivocal guarantees that include a substantial upgrade in Israel-U.S.
Obama promised that no decision taken during the
recent 189-nation conference to review and strengthen the 40-year-old
Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty "would be allowed to harm Israel's vital
interests," the sources said. (Obama promised to bolster Israel's strategic
capabilities, Jerusalem officials say - Haaretz Daily Newspaper)
Robert Gates and Israel's Minister of Defense Ehud Barak,
April 27, 2010
Relationship in Jeopardy?
The actions of Israel against the Freedom Flotilla have important
ramifications. Israel's criminal actions in international waters has
contributed to weakening the US-NATO-Israel military alliance.
The bilateral Israel-Turkey alliance in military, intelligence, joint
military production is potentially in jeopardy. Ankara has already announced
that three planned military exercises with Israel have been cancelled. "The
government announced it was considering reducing its relations with Israel
to a minimum."
It should be understood that Israel and Turkey are partners and major actors
in the US-NATO planned aerial attacks on Iran, which have been in the
pipeline since mid-2005. The rift between Turkey and Israel has a direct
bearing on NATO as a military alliance. Turkey is one of the more powerful
NATO member states with regard to its conventional forces.
The rift with Israel breaks a consensus within
the Atlantic Alliance. It also undermines ongoing US-NATO-Israel pre-emptive
war plans directed against Iran, which until recently were endorsed by the
From the outset in 1992, the Israeli-Turkish military alliance was directed
against Syria, as well as Iran and Iraq.
In 1997, Israel and Turkey launched "A Strategic Dialogue" involving a
bi-annual process of high level military consultations by the respective
deputy chiefs of staff. (Milliyet, Istanbul, in Turkish 14 July 2006).
During the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between
the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded.
This "triple alliance", which in
practice is dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrates and
coordinates military command decisions between the three countries
pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military
ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong
bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara.
Starting in 2005, Israel has become a de facto member of NATO.
alliance was coupled with a 2005 NATO-Israeli military cooperation agreement
which included "many areas of common interest, such as the fight against
terrorism and joint military exercises.
These military cooperation ties with NATO are
viewed by the Israeli military as a means to,
"enhance Israel's deterrence capability
regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria."
("Triple Alliance": The US, Turkey,
Israel and the War on Lebanon - 2006).
The Issue of Territorial
Israel's blockade of Gaza is in large part motivated by the broader issue of
control of Gaza's territorial waters, which contain significant reserves of
What is at stake is the confiscation of
Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral de facto declaration of Israeli
sovereignty over Gaza's maritime areas. If the blockade were to be broken,
Israel's de facto control over Gaza's offshore gas reserves would be