Again the Zionist massacre of maybe as many as 29 civilians (Galloway's figure, Israel says 10) aboard the Free Gaza flotilla is what I'm going to deal with. I have discussed it and tried to cover the most important developments
First of all it is intolerable that we still don't know for sure the casualty figures and their names.
Some of the prisoners are already returning to their homes but most remain under Israeli detention. Israel has declared, revoking previous statements that they would be judged there (on what charges: interception of Zionist bullets with their bodies?), that they will be offered the choice to identify themselves and be returned home or to remain in Israel as political prisoners.
I imagine that some of the approximately 130 Palestinians in the ships will chose the second option. Because in the videos before departure they were so extremely eager to return to their homeland in spite of all the oppression!
The declarations of some of the returning pacifists can be read at Reuters' AlertNet:
We did not resist at all, we couldn't even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard? The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices.
There was great mistreatment after our arrest. We were essentially hostages, like animals on the ground.
They wouldn't let us use the bathroom, wouldn't give us food or water and they took video of us despite international conventions banning this.
The captain of the vessel Mavi Marmara told us 'They are firing randomly, they are breaking the windows and entering inside. So you should get out of here as soon as possible.' That was our last conversation with him.
There are others but the only direct witness mentioned of what happened at the Mavi Marmara seems to be German MP Norman Paech (Die Linke):
"That was not an act of self defence. That was a war crime ... To talk about self defence is a mockery." He personally saw "two and a half" wooden blocks which activists used. He did not see any knives. He did not rule out that activists used metal rods, but he did not see them.
Other news taken from Al Jazeera's live coverage are:
British PM David Cameron calls for a lift of the blockade of Gaza.
King Abdullah from Jordan has offered to take those prisoners who are citizens of countries that have no relations with Israel.
A rather unusual development are the mass protests in Tel Aviv (see video from Israel Social TV - in Hebrew). It's difficult to evaluate the numbers because there are not panoramic images but I'd say that thousands [confirmed: Israeli Ma'an agency says that 2000, as reported by Gaza Solidarity].
The President of Finland declared:
We have condemned it very strongly. The first thing of course is the situation in Gaza. Isolation is not a constructive way for negotiations. So the people in Gaza should be treated in a human way. They have suffered quite too much. The second part is that, these ships of solidarity have been one effort by the NGO side, and the answer of [the] military is totally impossible to understand.
I think that the leaders of Israel have now seen not only different countries; the EU, and the UN Security Council have strongly condemned the violence, and have been very decisive to say that it has to be stopped, both the blockade and the other violence.
Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, demanded that Israel shares information about the condition of the activists from the flotilla.
Erdogan's discourse at least once emphasized the historical ties of friendship and cooperation with Israel. However he also addressed the Israeli nation in this manner:
We have always contributed to the attempts of Israeli people to maintain peace and stability. Now it is their turn. Your government's aggressive attitudes, like robbers, like pirates, this is damaging your country's respect in the international arena.
Part of his discourse was also critical with the USA, implicitly blaming them for Israeli's arrogance and reckless attitude.
More details of Erdogan's discourse can be read here.
Hamas denounced the UN Security Council declaration as weak and unbalanced. They also made a call for Palestinian unity.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak declared that it is opening the Rafah crossing for medical and humanitarian cases however he did not state for how long (in previous occasions it has only lasted a few days). Later information from Al Fatah (the so-called Palestinian Authority but that title would correspond to Hamas if anyone, as they won the last elections) said that there are no restrictions on who can cross through Rafah.
Al Jazeera cameraman Isaam Zaatar, on board of one of the ships, denounced violence from the Zionist troops:
I was filming, he [an Israeli solider] ran after me with an electric stick [stun gun]. He could not catch me. One of his colleagues hit my hand from behind with a stick [stun gun]. My camera fell down. He ran to crush the camera with his feet. I told him, don’t break my camera. If you want the tapes, I will give them to you. I told him these are media equipment. They had no limits. They used rubber bullets. They used tear bombs. It was an unbelievable scene.
He also informed that many of the arrested are being forced by the Zionist military to sing false documents declaring that they had broken the law.
The European Union and Russia issued a strong joint statement condemning the use of violence and calling for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted. In my opinion, this rare joint declaration shows how the lack of a strong stand from Washington on Israeli crimes is altering the geopolitics of West Eurasia and weakening NATO.
Global civil movement Avaaz (Voice in Arabic) has an online petition that states:
We call for an immediate, independent investigation into the flotilla assault, full accountability for those responsible, and the lifting of the Gaza blockade.
In few hours it has achieved almost 70,000 signatures. You can add yours here.
Another such petition by US-based Freedom Forward can be found here.
Arab League Secretary General, Amr Moussa, declared that action will be decided tomorrow and that the action will be taken against Israel "on legal, political and economic levels".
The Israeli Military seems to insist that the death toll is of 10. We'll see.
Demonstrations across the World against the massacre continue and are likely to go on through the weekend at least.
Israel Occupation Archive highlights the declarations of Mossad Chief Meir Dagan to Haaretz newspaper acknowledging that:
Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.
Dagan also said that the U.S. government has recently examined the possibility of coercing a settlement on Israel and the Palestinians, but retreated from the idea after realizing it would not lead to a peace agreement.
The same site also mentions that Israeli-Arab leaders have called a general strike in protest for the murderous attack on the flotilla. They also called on world governments to put Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on trial and called for a number of demonstrations.
Past coverage of the massacre and related events in this blog here and here.