Bulgarian Gaza Reporter: Turkish Ship Was Provocation for Israel

Politics » DIPLOMACY | June 3, 2010, Thursday // 13:19| Views: | Comments: 21
Bulgarian Gaza Convoy Reporter: Turkish Ship Was Provocation for Israel: Bulgarian Gaza Reporter: Turkish Ship Was Provocation for Israel Svetoslav Ivanov (l), a reporter, and Valentin Vassilev, a cameraman, who work for Bulgaria's biggest private TV, bTV, are safe in Sofia after being arrested by Israeli commandos, who stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip. Photo by bTV

The reporter, who is one of the two Bulgarian journalists, arrested Monday when Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, says everyone on board was fully aware they were heading to a war zone.

In a Thursday interview, Svetoslav Ivanov, who was on one of the six-ship flotilla, along with cameraman, Valentiv Vassilev, both from the country's biggest private national TV channel bTV, pointed out that before the ships sailed they were under the impression the captains would stop them before entering territorial waters, only to realize it was deiced and coordinated ahead of time that there would be no stopping at all.

"They all knew Israel was prepared to use any means to stop them," the reporter pointed out.

Ivanov also stated that the 50+ organizers, mainly pro-Palestinian organizations, but also human rights ones, and peace supporters, were fully aware that they had media traveling with them, which made them bolder, adding things could have been much scarier without the presence of journalists.

The reporter stressed that there have been provocations towards the Israelis, particularly pointing out the culprit of the incident, the Turkish ship “Mavi Marmara,” which was the said target of the commandos' attack.

“The ship was huge. It had 540 Turkish passengers on board. The captains decided before the beginning of the trip that it would lead the flotilla. I have some of the attack on film with Valentin having just about a minute to do whatever he could in the dark” Ivanov said, adding warnings on the radio started as early as 10 pm Sunday.

“We were all gathered inside the captain's cabin – journalists and many American citizens, some were pro-Palestinian activists, others - totally independent people, who were just curious what will happen,” the Bulgarian reporter continued, “I cannot say this was organized provocation, but the conditions for all this to occur were right there – it was like – let's try to pass the blockade, and if we don't succeed, let's at least make headlines. But no one expected the toll that ended up being paid by the Turkish ship.”

The operator added that the captain told them the ship must stop before entering Gaza territorial waters and promised, since day one, to not risk their lives.

The two reiterated what they told reporters upon landing in Sofia Wednesday evening – being in an information blackout, without clean, cold drinking water, forced to drink hot one; without access to their luggage i.e. clean clothes and toiletries and without Vassilev's high blood pressure medication, which had been seized by the Israeli authorities. In addition to their private belongings, the camera had also been confiscated. It remains unclear when everything would be returned to Ivanov and Vassilev, who say all cameras of all journalists were taken away and “what the world is seeing now is only the Israeli view point.”

The journalists expressed their gratitude to the Bulgarian Embassy in Israel for finding them and helping them, adding an Israeli service man greeted them with: “Welcome to Israel; we have prepared a great reception to our jails for you.”

Ivanov and Vassilev are now banned from visiting Israel in the next 10 years.

9 people, all reported to be Turkish citizens, have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.

Israel declared Monday that the organizers of the flotilla, which tried to reach the Gaza Strip despite the Israel blockade, are terrorists connected to Hamas and Al-Queda. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, canceled his visit to Washington on Tuesday to return to Israel.

The attack sent shock waves of outrage in Palestine, Greece, and Turkey, while the EU and the UN demand full investigation of "what has happened."

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» To the forumComments (21)
#21
NellieotAmerica - 13 Jun 2010 // 18:14:41

(continued)

War-like conditions certainly exist between Israel and Hamas. And because Israel intercepts only self-identified blockade runners, its actions have little impact on neutral shipping. This balance is reflected in the traditional privilege of states to capture foreign pirates on the high seas.

So Israel's legal position is reasonable, and it has precedent. During the U.S. Civil War, the Union claimed to blockade the Confederacy while at the same time maintaining that the Confederacy was not a sovereign state but an agent of insurrection.

When the Union navy seized ships trying to run the blockade, their owners argued that a country cannot interfere with shipping on the high seas except during war, and one cannot be at war except with another sovereign state. The U.S. Supreme Court approved the captures in an ambiguous opinion that held that an armed conflict existed, even though one side was not a sovereign state. The opinion suggests a certain latitude for countries to use blockades against internal as well as external enemies.

Human Rights Watch argues that a blockade to strike at a terrorist organization constitutes a collective penalty against a civilian population, in violation of Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention. This argument won't stand up. Blockades and other forms of economic sanction are permitted in international law, which necessarily means that civilians will suffer through no fault of their own.

Most attention has focused on the question whether Israeli commandos used excessive force while taking control of one of the flotilla ships, which resulted in nine deaths. Human Rights Watch says that Israel's actions violated the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. However, that document is not international law; its principles are akin to a set of "best practices" for advising countries with poorly trained police forces. It is also vague and it would not apply to a military operation.

Military operations must respect the principle of proportionality, which is a fuzzy, "know-it-when-you-see-it" test. But one thing is clear. Ships that run blockades may be attacked and sunk under international law. If Israel had exercised that right, far more than nine people would have been killed.

#20
NellieotAmerica - 13 Jun 2010 // 18:13:57

Fistula

"Nellie didn't post the applicable law, and the attack was completely illegal. Every first semester law student will explain you why. End of story."

I guess every first semester law student doesn't know what Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School knows:

"Israel's raid on a fleet of activists bound for the Gaza Strip has led to wild accusations of illegality. But the international law applicable to the blockade eludes the grasp of those in search of easy answers. (Fisted comes to mind...lol)

The most serious charge is that by seizing control of the flotilla, Israel violated the freedom of ships to travel on the high seas. The basic law here is that states have jurisdiction over a 12-mile territorial sea and can take enforcement actions in an additional 12-mile contiguous zone, according to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (which Israel has not ratified, but which is generally regarded as reflecting customary international law). Outside that area, foreign ships can sail unmolested.

But there are exceptions. Longstanding customary international law permits states to enforce publicly announced blockades on the high seas. The Gaza blockade was known to all, and certainly to those who launched the ships for the very purpose of breaking it. The real question is whether the Israeli blockade is lawful. Blockades certainly are during times of war or armed conflict. The U.S.-led coalition imposed a blockade on Iraq during the first Gulf War.

The catch here is the meaning of "armed conflict." Traditionally, armed conflict can take place only between sovereign states. If Gaza were clearly a sovereign state, then Israel would be at war with Gaza and the blockade would be lawful. If, however, Gaza were just a part of Israel, Israel would have the right to control its borders— but not by intercepting foreign ships outside its 12-mile territorial sea or contiguous zone.

Gaza is not a sovereign state (although it has its own government, controlled by Hamas) and is not a part of Israel or of any other state. Its status is ambiguous, and so too is the nature of the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas. Thus there is no clear answer to the question whether the blockade is lawful.

However, the traditional idea of armed conflict involving only sovereign states has long given way to a looser definition that includes some conflicts between states and nonstate actors. The international rules governing blockades attempt to balance belligerents' interest in security and other countries' economic interests in shipping. During war, security interests prevail.

#19
NellieotAmerica - 13 Jun 2010 // 16:16:17

Bill

Fisted said: "Nellie didn't post the applicable law, and the attack was completely illegal. Every first semester law student will explain you why. End of story."

He is delusional. There is NOTHING legal about aspiring to destroy a sovereign nation such as Israel. Hamas is not only aspiring, but working towards this goal with the help of Eurotrash liberals and Islamo-fascists like Fister. And just because he is sporting the audacity of arrogance and insolence does not make him right. Quite the opposite. He can't produce a rational argument, so he is resorting to bravado and misplaced self-assurance. Clearly he is bluffing so as not to lose the argument. And he is bluffing in such an obvious and transparent way. He must be a terrible poker player. lol

#18
DrFaust - 13 Jun 2010 // 14:07:20

Bill,

"To the malcontents:

Nellie posted the applicable law. Israel followed it to the letter. End of show. Pick up your left-over popcorn and go homel."

Nellie didn't post the applicable law, and the attack was completely illegal. Every first semester law student will explain you why. End of story.

#17
Bill - 5 Jun 2010 // 02:04:13

Nellie:

Dunno. It looked like a dissenting opinion, and I thought we agreed.

#16
NellieotAmerica - 5 Jun 2010 // 01:51:43

Bill

I addressed it to you because we are having a conversation?

#15
Bill - 4 Jun 2010 // 23:01:43

Nellie:

"Nothing bad is going to happen to any ships that allow Israel cost guard to inspect the cargo. The ONLY reason this Turkish ship was roughed up is because of the Islamist terrorists who would rather fight than allow inspection by Israel."

Don't know why you addressed this to me. At the very beginning of the sentence, I said, "if they meet resistance". If the ships either go to an Israeli port or somewhere else, nothing will happen; if they insist upon going to Gaza and repel a boarding party, things will definitely happen, unless I greatly overestimate the Israelis. In these things, like policemen at a scene of devastation. They're in no mood for games. Too much serious business at hand.

#14
NellieotAmerica - 4 Jun 2010 // 21:40:25

Bill

Nothing bad is going to happen to any ships that allow Israel cost guard to inspect the cargo. The ONLY reason this Turkish ship was roughed up is because of the Islamist terrorists who would rather fight than allow inspection by Israel. They were Muslim extremists, not peaceful humanitarians. one of the first things I said regarding this story was that only one ship out of 6 resisted the Israeli coast guard and the only people who got killed were the members of the IHH terrorist organization who were jihadists.

#13
Bill - 4 Jun 2010 // 18:50:31

Act I, Scene 2.

German news is reporting tonight that there's an Irish freighter loaded with relief goods for Gaza underway, and will try to run the Israeli blockade tomorrow. I doubt the Israelis are interested in playing this game. If there's resistance this time, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they sank the ship. Hopefully, it won't go that far, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

#12
Bill - 4 Jun 2010 // 17:46:09

Nellie:

"I don't believe the lies the Muslim world is puking about humanitarian aid. The purpose of this hare-brained exercise was to break the blockade so Hamas can get uninterrupted supply of arms and rockets to attack Israel. Hamas was running low in fire power lately. Once the blockade was broken, then the ships carrying weapons and rockets could freely enter Gaza. That was the whole purpose of this "humanitarian mission"

"And of course it was to distract attention from Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambition. If I was Israel, I wouldn't wait too long before hitting those nuclear installations in Iran. The rockets Hamas is shooting into Israel will be carrying nuclear war heads soon, it is just a matter of time. Better deal with Iran in a timely manner. Clearly the douche bag Ahmadinejad has no intention of complying with any UN resolutions, he is mocking us."

I don't kinow why you addressed that to me. We're agreed on that point. I've been out of our Navy for a long time, now, but I'd bet that if the US were blockading a seacoast, they wouldn't allow a fleet of civilian do-gooders through.

I think a lot of the hype is being generated by the prominence of some of the poor folks who actually thought their being there would influence anyone.

To the malcontents:

Nellie posted the applicable law. Israel followed it to the letter. End of show. Pick up your left-over popcorn and go homel.

#11
NellieotAmerica - 4 Jun 2010 // 17:01:29

Everything about that Turkish "humanitarian mission" to Gaza is becoming clear to us now:

"Members of Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, distinguished themselves from other activists involved in the aid mission by a willingness to fight.

"We do not even have a jackknife here, but we will not let Israeli soldiers on board this ship," IHH leader Bulent Yildirim told reporters via a live video stream before the convoy set sail from Cyprus.

The fact that all the dead belonged to the IHH, and that the group's ship was the only one in the convoy that chose to fight rather than offer passive resistance, has further focused attention on whether the group's motives were simply to provide aid to residents of the blockaded Gaza Strip."

"We know that IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria and Gaza over the past three years. That is obviously of great concern to us," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Wednesday. Hamas is the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip."

#10
NellieotAmerica - 4 Jun 2010 // 16:23:06

From the Times:

"The Turkish charity at the centre of the raid by Israeli forces on an aid vessel in the Mediterranean was under intense scrutiny last night over its alleged links with militant organisations.

Despite their claims to be an entirely peaceful organisation, The Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) has a history of involvement in Islamic extremism around the world and has been linked with an attempted bombing of an airport in the US.

The charity had 40 members on the Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara when it was boarded by Israeli Navy commandos on Monday. Nine people died in the operation.

Israeli security sources said that about 40 people set upon their commandos as they abseiled from a helicopter on to the upper deck of the ship, armed primarily with paintball guns intended for use in crowd control. The troops found themselves facing a crowd armed with metal pipes, knives and stun grenades.

The activists tied the rope used by the soldiers to a railing on the ship, in the hope of bringing down the helicopter, officials said — forcing the commander to cut the rope and leave four commandos on the deck below.

Israeli security sources said that about 40 people set upon their commandos as they abseiled from a helicopter on to the upper deck of the ship, armed primarily with paintball guns intended for use in crowd control. The troops found themselves facing a crowd armed with metal pipes, knives and stun grenades.

The activists tied the rope used by the soldiers to a railing on the ship, in the hope of bringing down the helicopter, officials said — forcing the commander to cut the rope and leave four commandos on the deck below.

Security sources said that the assailants used a saw to cut metal bars from the ship’s railings.

According to reports in the Israeli press, some of the men who tackled the commandos were equipped with night-vision goggles, gas masks and life vests. Others had ceramic vests to stop bullets, security officials said.

About a hundred of the passengers were carrying wads of $10,000 on them — a total of about $1 million; money the authorities say was bound for Hamas, which controls Gaza.

The IHH had been unable to charter a ship for the risky voyage, and had resorted to buying the Mavi Marmara for ?900,000 (?750,000); money it said it had raised from its members in Turkey. It also bought the 10,000 tonnes of aid intended for Gaza, including electric wheelchairs and pre-fabricated houses.

General Richard Myers, former Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Times yesterday that there was substantial evidence of some charitable organisations being exploited by extremist groups for their own ends. “A lot of wealthy benefactors providing donations for humanitarian relief don’t know what they’re funding. They think they’re doing something for welfare and education,” he said.

#9
NellieotAmerica - 4 Jun 2010 // 16:11:05

Bill

I don't believe the lies the Muslim world is puking about humanitarian aid. The purpose of this hare-brained exercise was to break the blockade so Hamas can get uninterrupted supply of arms and rockets to attack Israel. Hamas was running low in fire power lately. Once the blockade was broken, then the ships carrying weapons and rockets could freely enter Gaza. That was the whole purpose of this "humanitarian mission"

And of course it was to distract attention from Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambition. If I was Israel, I wouldn't wait too long before hitting those nuclear installations in Iran. The rockets Hamas is shooting into Israel will be carrying nuclear war heads soon, it is just a matter of time. Better deal with Iran in a timely manner. Clearly the douche bag Ahmadinejad has no intention of complying with any UN resolutions, he is mocking us.

#8
Bill - 4 Jun 2010 // 01:04:21

Nellie:

Here's another group who had no business being on the flotilla crying about how awful the raid was.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk/10222342.stm

Let's say Connecticut and Massachusetts gang up on Rhode Island, and Rhode Island's National Guard shoots a few neighbors. Would there be the same reaction?

#7
Bill - 4 Jun 2010 // 00:27:04

Nellie:

This should make your day:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/10226151.stm

German news is reporting that five Germans were aboard the flotilla, not being definite about which ship(s). They were flown out to Turkey. Four are in Istanbul; an injured 5th is in a hospital in Ankara.

Netanyahu nearly got into a war during his earlier term. He's not about to lie down and take a batch of crap from anyone. As Tolkien put it, it's as dangerous as poking a sleeping dragon in the eye.l

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