Israeli Commanders on Trial
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article said Israel's rap sheet makes serial killers look saintly by comparison. It's no exaggeration. Decades of crimes of war, against humanity and genocide explain.
Accountability so far is wishful thinking. Hope springs eternal. In May 2012, Turkey issued arrest warrants. Four former senior IDF officers were named.
They include Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, military intelligence head Amos Yadlin, naval commander Eliezer Marom, and air force intelligence head Avishai Levi.
They're accused of ordering the May 31, 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre. Israeli commandos attacked the vessel preemptively. They did so in international waters.
Nine Turkish nationals were assassinated. Dozens more were injured. Everyone on board was terrorized. Israel planned it that way.
High crimes were committed. A 144-page indictment said so. They were premeditated. They were against unarmed, nonviolent activists. They were delivering vital humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans.
Turkish/Israeli relations became strained. Ankara demanded an apology and compensation for families of victims.
Israel never says it's sorry. It refused and stonewalled. Rogue states operate that way. Turkey's trial is largely symbolic. Proceedings began last November.
Accused Israelis didn't attend. No one expected them to. Entering Turkish territory subjects them to arrest.
Istanbul Prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci seeks 10 consecutive life sentences. It's for nine deaths plus another victim in coma.
Charges include voluntary manslaughter, attempted voluntary manslaughter, intentional injury, incitement to assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, abduction or confiscation of maritime vessels, property damage, false arrest, and mistreatment of prisoners.
Hundreds of complainants were invited to testify. Conclusions from an internal Turkish investigation accused Israel of "banditry," "piracy," and "state-sponsored terrorism."
Israel is guilty as charged. Clear evidence proves it. More on that below.
On February 21, the Jerusalem Post  headlined "Turkey resumes Gaza flotilla trial for four ex-IDF heads," saying:
Israel dismisses proceedings as politically motivated. An unnamed legal official called it a "show trial."
Last year's proceedings focused on murder charges. Current ones address mistreatment, sexual harassment, property theft, and violations of press freedom. Citizens of 37 countries are involved. Hundreds demand justice.
On February 26, Mondoweiss  contributor James Marc Leas headlined "Years of impunity for Israeli leaders may draw to a close in Turkish flotilla trial."
Uneditied raw video  is damning. It's authentic. It points fingers the right way. Videographer Iara Lee took it. It provides over an hour of "minute-by-minute" documented evidence.
It "shows Israeli soldiers firing weapons at the ship at least 5 minutes and 30 seconds before other Israeli soldiers are seen rappelling down to the ship from a helicopter."
In other words, it was premeditated. It's well before anyone on board had time to react.
Israeli officials lied. They claimed boarding commandos acted in self-defense.
They initiated attacks guns blazing. They singled out targeted victims. They murdered them in cold blood. They did so at point blank range.
Footage showed in court "was formally released at a" UN June 10, 2010 press conference.
Gunfire began at "36:08 on the film."
"(I)t appears to be coming from an Israeli Zodiac boat. (It was) alongside the" Mavi Marmara.
"The first explosive device is at 36:13."
Over the next few minutes, gunfire and explosions are heard.
At 36:39, closeups show Israeli soldiers on the Zodiac firing at unarmed civilians.
Video "shows flashes from guns and an Israeli soldier with a rifle aimed up at the ship."
From 36:08 - 37:17, lots of firing and explosions are heard.
At 37:40, the first helicopter sound is heard.
At 38:24, "red dripping on the walls is seen, and someone keeps saying blood."
At 39:12, "(s)omeone else says "I think they are using paintball looking stuff. It is not live ammunition."
From 39:40 - 40:15, audible helicopter sound gets louder. At 40:28, it's visible.
At 41:58, six or seven commandos "are seen rappelling down along two different ropes…."
At 42:29, the helicopter lifts away. At 42:40, passenger noise level rises.
At 42:49, 43:18, and 43: 35, gunfire is heard. At 43:29, wounded are seen carried away.
"At 44:18, Kevin, an American, shows a booklet obtained from one of the Israeli soldiers…."
It shows pictures of activists on board Israel wanted to kill. They knew in advance who to target.
"(F)ootage shows Israeli soldiers firing weapons and shooting explosive devices beginning at least 5 minutes and 30 seconds before other Israeli soldiers came rappelling down their rope from (their) helicopter."
These facts contradict Israel's self-defense claim. It doesn't wash. Clear evidence proves otherwise. So do numerous victim testimonies.
"Israeli government forces seized electronic devices, including cameras, computers, cell phones, and memory cards…."
Israeli released footage was fake. It was staged. It doesn't wash. It was filmed in advance on a Mavi Marmara replica. It showed passengers attacking soldiers.
Clear evidence shows Israeli commandos committed cold-blooded murder. If Turkish authorities are serious, they'll find IDF commanders guilty of high crimes. Doing so will set a precedent. It's high time that happened.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.