Medal for Murder, Valour?
A reporter and producer for the Arabic news organization Al Jazeera who was on board the Gaza-bound aid flotilla during Monday's deadly raid gave a firsthand account of the grisly scene aboard the ship to the network Thursday.
According to Jamal ElShayyal's account of the raid, the Israeli military had fired on the Mavi Marmara before boarding the ship. "It was evident there was definitely fire from the air, because one of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above -- he was shot, the bullet targeted him at the top of his head," ElShayyal said. "There was also fire coming from the sea as well." This account differs from the one given by the Israeli military.
The reporter also describes being mistreated by officials alongside other civilians before his Thursday release.
Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range
Exclusive: Nine Turkish men on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times, autopsy results reveal
Israel was tonight under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.
The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain today, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a "shoot to kill policy".
He calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just two feet in front him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.
The new information about the manner and intensity of the killings undermines Israel's insistence that its soldiers opened fire only in self defence and in response to attacks by the activists.
"Given the very disturbing evidence which contradicts the line from the Israeli media and suggests that Israelis have been very selective in the way they have addressed this, there is now an overwhelming need for an international inquiry," said Andrew Slaughter MP, a member of the all party group on Britain and Palestine.
Israel said tonight the number of bullets found in the bodies did not alter the fact that the soldiers were acting in self defence. "The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation," said a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London. "Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation."
Protesters from across the country will tomorrow march from Downing Street to the Israeli embassy to call for Israel to be held to account for its actions.
Earlier this week, William Hague, the foreign secretary, said the government would call for an inquiry under international auspices if Israel refuses to establish an independent inquiry, including an international presence.
The autopsy results were released as the last of the Turkish victims was buried. LinkHere