Naomi Klein, Canadian journalist and author of The Shock Doctrine, addresses yesterday's big rally to protest the Israeli assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.
And in other shocking (literally) news, we have this item from the Edmonton Sun:
Activists returning to Europe after Israeli forces raided their aid flotilla said Tuesday that the commandos had beaten passengers and used electric shocks during the assault.
Six Greeks and several others, including a Turkish woman and her 1-year-old baby, were released Tuesday, but Israel has barred access to hundreds of others seized during the raid that killed at least nine people and wounded dozens early Monday.
Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin, who had hidden with her baby in her cabin's bathroom aboard the Mavi Marmara, told reporters she believed there were 11 dead.
"The ship turned into a lake of blood," Cetin told reporters in Istanbul, having returned after Israeli officials warned that jail would be too harsh for her child.
"We were aware of the possible danger" in joining the trip, she said. "But there are thousands of babies in Gaza. If we had reached Gaza we would have played with them and taken them food."
She said Israeli vessels "harassed" the flotilla for two hours starting around 10 p.m. Sunday, and returned at around 4 a.m. Monday, fired warning shots and told the ships to turn back.
"When the Mavi Marmara continued on its course the harassment turned into an attack. They used smoke bombs followed by gas canisters. They started to descend onto the ship with helicopters," she said, calling the clashes that then erupted "extremely bad and brutal."
"I was one of the first victims to be released because I had a child," she told reporters, but "they confiscated everything, our telephones, laptops are all gone." Her husband -- the ship's engineer -- was still being held by Israeli authorities.
"Suddenly from everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully equipped commandos came up on the boat," said Greek activist Dimitris Gielalis, who had been aboard the Sfendoni. He was among six Greeks returned home Tuesday.
"They came up and used plastic bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think of, they used," he said.
He said the boat's captain was beaten for refusing to leave the wheel, and had sustained non-life-threatening injuries, while a cameraman filming the raid was hit with a rifle butt in the eye," he said. "Of course we weren't prepared for a situation of war."
"During their interrogation, many of them were badly beaten in front of us," said Aris Papadokostopoulos, who was aboard the Free Mediterranean travelling behind the Turkish ship and carrying mainly Greek and Swedish activists.
Papadokostopoulos said the flotilla was about 80 miles (130 kilometres) off Gaza when the raid occurred around 4 a.m. Monday.
"The Turkish ship was in front of us ... on which there was a terrible raid from the air and from the sea and from everywhere, with shooting," he said.
Aboard the other boats, he said, commandos beat activists, but nobody was gravely injured. He said no one put up resistance on the Free Mediterranean, which was carrying a cargo of wheelchairs, building material and medical and pharmaceutical aid.
"Some people were hit by clubs and electric shocks," he said.
Crew member Mihalis Grigoropoulos said he was on the bridge of the Free Mediterranean and heard shooting coming from the Turkish ship.
Several people who tried to stop the Israeli forces from getting to the bridge were hit by electric shocks and plastic bullets, he said. "We didn't' resist at all. Even if we had wanted to, what could we do?"
This account, of course, contradicts completely the various things the Israelis are saying--that the ship's passengers "ambushed" them. Some say they used kitchen knives and deck chairs in a "lynching" attempt, others insist they had live ammo. But of course, the passengers can't give their accounts until they are deported from Israel, by which time the Israelis will--or so they hope--have seized control of the story and made their version the one the rest of the world will believe.
Too bad for Israel, then, that this happened in international waters, meaning that the Israelis were out of their rightful jurisdiction, and that there is also raw video out there that puts the definitive lie to the Israeli version, and confirms what the three activists I've quoted say--that the Israelis were harassing the flotilla for hours beforehand, that they fired on the boats before boarding them, and that the passengers and crew were in no position to resist, being unarmed (and it being the dead of night). Watch this and see:
Various reporters from Press TV (Iran) and al-Jazeera (Qatar) address the camera in English and Arabic here, on board the Mavi Marmara. (If anyone can tell me what was said in Arabic, I'd be glad to know.) The last minute and a half or so (starting at 8:15) are the most telling--in the background you can hear a voice over the loudspeaker saying (in English) that "all the brothers" should "take your seats", as the ship is not prepared to fend off an attack. There is no sign of resistance from any passengers on any cameras aboard the ship, but there is some footage near the end of two masked, uniformed Israeli soldiers, firing at something or someone out of sight. Some "lynching"!
I'll be blogging more about this shortly. In the meantime, I've opened a new category here, called "Gazing on Gaza". Yes, it's a play on the title, Eyeless in Gaza; but this time, it's in reverse. Gaza is now very much under the eyes of the world. We are all watching. And we will not be silent about what we see.