VIVA PALESTINA PRESS RELEASE: Mavi Marmara survivors speak out against Israeli “whitewash” 24Jan11 January 24, 2011

Viva Palestina Press Release -  24 January 2011

Today, Israel has released a report into its actions on the Mavi Marmara last year, when the ship – carrying aid as part of a flotilla to Gaza – was attacked by Israel, leading to the deaths of 9 Turks and the injuring of dozens more.

Viva Palestina’s Kevin Ovenden, who was on board the Mavi Marmara when it was attacked by Israeli forces in May last year, said, “The claim by Israel’s Turkel Commission that Israeli forces acted legally when they killed nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara, and left another brain dead, will be laughed out of court by all but the Israeli government and its most fanatical supporters.

“This whitewash commission was set up by the Netanyahu government, the same people who commissioned the assault on the aid ship. It is simply unfeasible to claim that, for example, the two men shot immediately to the left and right of me, were gunned down in some act of self-defence. They were shot from above. No Israeli commando was in sight of us when the bullets rang out.

see also No Commission of Inquiry Can Authorize Collective Punishment

“Israel has refused an independent international inquiry and instead was brazen enough to establish this farce. No Turkish official, lawyer or representative was allowed to take part. One of the only two international observers who was a fig-leaf for the commission’s “impartiality” was Lord (David) Trimble. He was invited on to it a few months after founding a friends of Israel initiative. And as a leading establishment figure in the north of Ireland he refused for decades an independent inquiry into the killing of 14 unarmed civilians on the streets of Derry in 1972, the truth about the massacre only being officially acknowledged 38 years later with the report of the Saville inquiry.

“The United Nations Human Rights Council already found last year prima facie evidence of grave human rights abuses and war crimes aboard the Mavi Marmara.

“Rather than entertaining this charade from Tel Aviv, the British government should demand that Israel and those responsible for the atrocity of Bloody Monday on the Mediterranean on 31 May last year are held to account and to the same universal standards of justice that are required of other states.

“Whatever risible PR Israel and its supporters attempt to spin, that is going to happen. And on the one year anniversary of the attack on the Mavi Marmara a second, bigger international aid effort will set sail for the point at where it was so brutally attacked and will ask, civil society organisations, religious groups, politicians, governments, and people of conscience around the world to demand that all relevant governments and international bodies all it safe passage to Gaza.

“Wikileaks has confirmed what independent Israeli researchers told us last year. The siege on Gaza is carefully calibrated by the Israeli government to keep the Palestinian people in a state of dependency, with their economy society hovering just above complete collapse.

“The French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie is the latest high profile visitor to Gaza and Palestine to call for an end to the blockade.

“The pressure to end this barbarous policy is increasing. I think I can speak for all those who were aboard the Mavi Marmara in saying that we are redoubling our efforts in 2011 to bring it to an end this year. We will be part of the next aid missions, by land, by sea and by air.

“This sick joke from an Israeli government that has already lost all international credibility will serve only to increase our determination to bring justice to the Palestinian people.”

Sarah Colbourne, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and who was also onboard the Marvi Marmara when the Israeli Defence Force attacked the boat said:

“However hard the Israeli Government attempts to rewrite history, they can’t rewrite the truth. The facts are simple, the Marvi Marmara was carrying essential humanitarian aid like baby milk to the besieged people of Gaza. There were no guns or weapons on board the boat, we were in international waters, when over 300 bullets – or one for every two people on board – rained down on us, killing 9 people and injuring over 50.

The actions of the Israeli Defence Force and the Israeli Government where by all international standards of law illegal as is their continued occupation of Gaza and the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

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