|Juda S. Engelmayer||June 14th 2010|
A new videotaped interview with the captain of the largest ship in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has surfaced, revealing that the ship had been overrun by members of the Turkish humanitarian group İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH) preparing for a confrontation with Israel.
The whole truth of the incident has yet to come out, but with each day that passes, new information gets presented that helps piece this puzzle together. Mehmut Tuval, Captain, Mavi Marmara tells Israeli officers of a very different type of voyage than that of a pure humanitarian mission. The video opens with Tuval talking about a group of IHH members cutting steel pipe from the rails of the ship and cutting chains, preparing them on the deck three hours before the IDF commandoes boarded. To do this, they used cutting disks that were brought on for this purpose.
Tuval was asked if he was worried that violence would ensue. He asserted that he was quite worried, yet, he did say that no one was able to control the IHH members. In the video tape, the ship’s Chief Officer Gokkiran Gokhan confirms that under IHH control, people who were unknown to the IHH members were unable to move freely about the vessel.
If nothing else, the interviews bring more clarity to what was truly a chaotic situation, in that it indicates that there were those with other than humanitarian motives aboard. Even more, it suggests that the Mavi Marmara, if not the flotilla itself, was willingly sailing toward confrontation.
Israel’s blockade of the waterways to Gaza was established to limit the flow of munitions and tools that could yield weapons into Gaza. At the same time, critics condemn Israel for quarantining Palestinians. The fact that the Gaza Strip is a place from where rockets into Israel fall frequently and lawlessness and anti-Israel sentiment prevail gets overlooked or brushed aside as trivial. Critics fail to acknowledge that food and supplies go through the checkpoints into Gaza constantly by truck, after the content is inspected for materials that could be exploited for malice. Other ships carrying supplies meant for Gaza before the deadly flotilla and even after have been peacefully sent to Israeli ports and the content has been sent into Gaza by land. It is clear today that while there were some unassuming people aboard the pack of boats sailing that night, the purpose was to provoke Israel and cause an international incident.
For its role, the government of Turkey may not be an honest broker in this event. Its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been ratcheting up the harsh rhetoric against Israel for some time, and was among the first nations to recall its ambassador and used some of his harshest words yet, calling the Israeli Navy’s actions a “bloody massacre,” and declared that outright murder by an “aggressive country” was committed. Allusions then were made that Turkish Navy would escorting future ships, risking an armed confrontation with Israel. Yet, to a small degree, its rancor has cooled a bit as more evidence like this interview appears.
It is still unclear how much of a clear role Erdogan’s government played in planning the confrontation with Israel in the Mediterranean on May 31. Whether it was direct, having been on the ground floor of planning, or veiled, allowing it to sail knowing what was likely to happen, is an important piece of the puzzle. The former would be tantamount to an international crime, and would put the United Nations to task having to rein in the republic with a near 100% Moslem population. The latter would signal that the leadership of Israel’s most reliable Moslem population in the region has joined the forces to delegitimize and undermine the Jewish state.
Almost to the hour after the news of the bloodshed aboard the fateful ship, advocates, politicians and throngs of regular people throughout the world clamored for justice with unforgiving tirades against Israel. With the word that Israeli naval troops boarded the Mavi Marmara, and that people trying to bring aid to Gaza were killed, the jury seemed to have been out on the cause and effect. The United Nations Security Council, as sure as the sun rising, condemned the “Acts” in the Israeli raid, without seeing any evidence other than the news of gunshots and death.
What the evidence so far shows is that there was a concerted effort afoot to bring Israel to its knees and release the blockade of Gaza. Being that aid and supplies do flow into the region, the wisdom of ending the blockade is a design to help fuel Hamas and ready them for more aggression against Israel. The captain and the chief officer both acknowledge that there was something going on other than the delivery of needed goods, and the IHH contingent who boarded in Istanbul were prepared for battle.
As Egypt lifted opened the Rafah Crossing into Gaza in the wake of the international cries, cracks in the wall Israel has tried to maintain to keep Hamas from strengthening its abilities have formed. Even while the evidence seems to mount in support of Israel’s suspicions about the flotilla and its subsequent actions, world opinion intensifies against Israel. Should the Obama Administration agree to a United Nation designed investigation of the incident, it would signal an unquestionable implication that the flood of criticism and pressure rushing in by anti-Israel opportunists has pervaded the thinking in the White House to such a degree that facts are less important than political expedience.