Maine video producer recounts Gaza flotilla ordeal
The USA propaganda machine working overtime, it seems as ususal
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PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine video producer recalled hearing shots amid the chaos that broke out as Israeli troops raided the aid flotilla he was on that was attempting to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.
Scott Hamann of South Portland arrived in Maine late Friday night, five days after the flotilla was intercepted by Israeli troops, resulting in the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Hamann said troops that landed on the boat he was on fired high-powered paintball guns and threw a "stun grenade" that hit him on the foot before exploding behind him.
People aboard the flotilla expected a confrontation, but not a deadly one, he said.
"As soon as we heard the real guns going off, that's when we knew things were different than what we thought they'd be," he said. "We knew they'd use excessive force, but it was a game changer when we heard they were shooting people."
The six-ship flotilla was attempting to deliver supplies to Gaza in defiance of a 3-year-old Israeli blockade that has aimed to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza that could be used to attack Israel. At the same time, it has deepened the poverty of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the strip and heightened Mideast tensions.
The flotilla's journey ended when Israeli commandos boarded the vessels early Monday morning and clashed with passengers on one ship in a confrontation that left nine people dead.
Israel says troops used force only after they were attacked with weapons. Activists say Israel fired first.
Hamann, 29, owns Harbor Light Films video production company in South Portland. He was documenting the event as a job but also felt strongly about the cause.
David Rubinson, a former music producer in the U.S. who now lives in Eze, France, said he hired Hamann to ride aboard one of the six vessels in the flotilla, shoot video and photographs and post them on the website . http://www.witnessgaza.com/
Hamann said the flotilla was in international waters when it was intercepted by Israeli troops. When they boarded his vessel, Challenger I, they destroyed all video footage and camera memory cards, he said. LinkHere
As expected, Israel matched its use of overwhelming force against the passengers on the Mavi Marmara with an equally vigorous attempt to shape both how the story played out in U.S. media and the official response from the U.S. Government.
To that end they prepared talking points, enlisted the efforts of their lobby, and mobilized a virtual army of activists to monitor, respond to and pressure press, politicians and electronic web-postings.
Israel's talking points suggested an alternate reality, asserting that: the ships posed a mortal danger to Israel since they were populated by "dangerous extremists" (which, if true, raises the question, why did Israel free them, sending them on their way?); the Israeli military was ambushed and, therefore, acted in self-defense (as if hooded heavily armed paratroopers who landed in the dead of night were but innocent bystanders); the cargo could have been delivered peacefully to Gaza if only the ships had off-loaded in Israel (ignoring the fact that the materials being delivered included items like pre-fabricated housing that Israel had banned from reaching Gaza); and there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza (clearly refuted by respected independent NGO statistics on poverty and malnutrition rates among Palestinian children in Gaza).
World-wide reactions to the violent assault and the resultant deaths were swift in condemning Israeli behavior. But none of this mattered since Israel, in crises of this sort, plays to an audience of one. It is acceptable for Israel to endure international outrage and votes of 14 to 1 in the United Nation's Security Council, as long as that "1", the United States, stands at its side.
Seen in this context, initial reactions here may have given Israel some comfort, although to quote the jumbled words of legendary baseball great Yogi Berra, "it ain't over 'til it's over".
U.S. television networks for the most part gave scant coverage to the unfolding tragedy -- leaving viewers interested in the story no recourse but to hunt down al Jazeera English or the BBC to follow the tragic events at sea. Print media was a bit better, but as FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting - a media watchdog group) noted, too often the major dailies reported the story "through Israel's eyes" giving the benefit of the doubt to Israeli claims and focusing on the impact the event would have on U.S.-- Israeli relations rather than on the plight of Palestinians or the legality of Israel's attack in international waters. LinkHere
Name Of Slain American Activist Omitted From New York Times Article
The New York Times provided, on Thursday afternoon, internet “coverage” of the deadly Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla and its nonviolent peace activists heading to Gaza to deliver humanitarian supplies.
This coverage buried the name of an American citizen who was one of the activists shot and killed by the Israeli forces during the illegal assault on the Freedom Flotilla.
Writing for New York Times, Isabel Kershner, initially mentioned the name of Furkan Dogan, 19, who was born in Troy, New York in the United States and lived there as a child before moving to Turkey.
But by Friday morning, Dogan’s name could not be found in the story of the New York Times, both in the online edition and the print, James M. Wall said. (http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/nyt-flotil... )
The story only states that there is one American person who was killed in the attack, and that he is a “19 year-old American citizen”. LinkHere
Turkish newspaper Zaman says prosecution has begun compiling evidence against Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi following deadly raid on Gaza-bound flotilla
The İstanbul Bakırköy Prosecutor’s Office has launched a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi over the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Saturday.
According to the report, if the prosecutor’s office can compile enough evidence against Israel at the end of its probe, it will charge the Israeli officials with various crimes, including murder, injury, taking hostages, attacking Turkish citizens on the open seas and piracy.
The Turkish newspaper reported that one of the prosecutors interviewed all the injured on Wednesday in a hospital in Ankara except for intensive care unit patients. In addition, the hundreds of activists deported from Israel were examined at the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) to provide more evidence about the incident. LinkHere