Crew Confirms Flotilla Sought Violence
New evidence is challenging several claims against the Israeli navy surrounding the violent confrontation that took place on May 31st on IHH's Mavi Marmara ship. The new information comes directly from passengers on the flotilla.
Video statements from two Mavi Marmara crew members released on Wednesday by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) confirm that IHH operatives on the ship prepared to fight the Israeli navy two hours prior to the Israeli commandos boarded it. The IHH members used equipment they brought on board before departing Turkey to fight the Israelis.
Mehmut Tuval, the captain of the Mavi Marmara, said IHH activists had cut metal bars, steel and chains prior to the IDF takeover. Concerned about what he saw, Tuval threw some of the bars and chains into the sea.
Mavi Marmara chief officer Gokkiran Gokhan told investigators he was asked to look into commotion occurring near the life-boat section of the ship. He saw that bars and chains had already been cut off by IHH activists from the deck using rotary saws. When asked who the saws belonged to, he replied, "I don't know, not the ship's. There is no such equipment on the ship."
On Monday, ITIC released a report indicating the initial statements taken from passengers on the IHH ship:
"Confirmed that the violence met by the IDF soldiers was not spontaneous but rather an organized, premeditated action carried out by a hard core of 40 IHH operatives (among the 500 passengers). The operatives, who acted according to a clearly-defined internal hierarchy, boarded the ship in the port of Istanbul without undergoing a security inspection (as opposed to the other passengers, who boarded in Antalya after a full inspection)."
Gokhan also said that the 40 IHH activists who boarded the ship in Istanbul "didn't let people they didn't know move around" the ship freely, and communicated with each other with "walkie-talkies" they brought with them from Istanbul.
One U.S. citizen who participated in the flotilla admitted in an interview released on Thursday that she did not see the confrontation that occurred on the Mavi Marmara ship. That's not stopping her from continuing a speaking tour across the U.S. to discuss her "eyewitness" account of the "murder" of "nine innocent civilians" on the ship.
CODEPINK activist Ann Wright wrote in an alert published on the organization's website on Thursday, "I witnessed the Israeli attack that killed 9 persons and wounded 50 on the Gaza Flotilla…"
Wright also stated in an interview with GRITtv:
"They're [Israelis] pirates, kidnapping people, murdering people, wounding people, stealing huge cargos, 10,000 tons, and yet the Israelis portray themselves as victims, well let me tell you, I was there, I saw it, there's no victimization at all going of the Israelis, the Israelis were criminal in what they did and the brutality in which they did it."
Yet in an interview with Araon Lerner of IMRA, Wright revealed that she lied about what she saw. Wright was on board a different ship, the Challenger, which was approximately 150 yards from the Mavi Marmara. The following is an excerpt from her interview with Lerner:
"Lerner: Col. Wright I just want to make sure again – so you actually were on a different boat and did not witness the attack firsthand."
Wright: That's correct.
Lerner: So your witnessing is based on the information that you are getting from the other folks who were there.
Wright: My witness will be specifically what happened on our ship, the Challenger. And then I can comment on what happened in the very first three or four minutes as the Israeli commandos were trying to board the ship. We saw that from the stern ship. Bur after that that's when my witnessing from my own eyes of what happened on that ship would end."