Sunday, June 13, 2010

Does a New Flotilla Video Show Israeli Commandos Executing Gaza Aid Ship Victim?

Does a New Flotilla Video Show Israeli Commandos Executing Gaza Aid Ship Victim?

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A newly surfaced video clip, allegedly from the May 31, 2010 Israeli attack, in international waters, on the Gaza aid flotilla ship Mavi Marmara, appears to show Israeli commandos carrying out an execution. The clip may be from one hour’s worth of footage smuggled off the Mavi Marmara by American independent filmmaker Iara Lee. That footage is being released at four PM Eastern Time today at the United Nations. Here is an interview with Lee aired today on the Democracy Now show.

Jewish-American journalist and blogger Richard Silverstein has thrown his weight behind the veracity of video clip that appears to show two commandos in the process of executing someone. The victim, behind a railing, is not visible but the commandos in the clip are clearly kicking someone (or something) on the ground. One of the two aims his rifle at what one would assume is a person, and seems to fire several shots. [update: Richard Silverstein has subsequently consulted with weapons expert Professor Scott MacEachern who states, on the question of what sort of weapon the commando in the video is carrying, "I think he’s shooting whoever is on the ground with a silenced Ruger 10/22 .22-calibre bolt-action rifle with a modified stock. The Israelis bought some and used them for ‘crowd control’ for a while, until they were prohibited legally from using it – except they still did. They also use it to kill guard dogs – a so-called ‘hush-puppy’ weapon – in the Special Forces, so Sayeret 13 might be using it. This would kill you."]

I’ve studied the clip in detail, and there are no muzzle flashes visible but the muzzle of the gun was out of the line-of-sight of the camera that took the footage, hidden behind the ship railing that presumably also occludes the person the commando is aiming his rifle at. Towards the very end of the footage, the commando can be seen loading what would appear to be an ammunition clip into his rifle. He then aims it toward what is presumably a human victim. I’ve studied the clip frame by frame, and at this point (it’s hard to see with the naked eye) there is a rifle recoil.

If the video clip is authentic it would be extremely incriminating. An official autopsy done by the Turkish government on the corpses of victims from the Mavi Marmara showed many of the dead were shot at close range, multiple times, in the head. At least nine Mavi Marmara Gaza aid activists died in the assault, and forty eight of the 600-700 activists aboard the Marmara suffered gunshot wounds.

Both the clip that appears to show an execution aboard the Mavi Marmara, and the soon-to-be released smuggled footage from filmmaker Iara Lee, have surfaced at an embarrassing time for Israel’s government given that only a few days ago, on June 4th, the Israeli Government Press Office, which is under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, “accidentally” released a satirical music video mocking the activists recently attacked aboard the Marmara. That video, produced by former Netanyahu adviser Caroline Glick, also mocked allegations of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip with the following lyrics,

“We must go on, pretending day by day that in Gaza there’s crisis hunger and plague coz the billion bucks in aid won’t buy their basic needs like some cheese and missiles for the kids.”

As result of both the long-term Israeli blockade of Gaza, and the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead IDF attack on the Gaza Strip, Gaza’s economy has nearly collapsed and many of Gaza’s children are suffering from malnutrition according to a 2009 United Nations agency report which indicated that up to 65.5 percent of babies 9-12 months old in Gaza are anemic. Anemia can cause long-term development delays, retardation, and behavioral disorders.

As Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, when the blockade of the Gaza Strip was initiated under Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Olmert’s adviser Dov Weisglass stated that “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

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