by Michel Chossudovsky
May 31, 2010
War Criminal Prime Minister Netanyahu, who
directly ordered the strike on the international flotilla to Gaza, was
on an official visit to Canada at the time of the Israeli attack.
The strike constitutes an act of piracy in violation of the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Netanyahu's actions, which have resulted in 19 deaths and up to 60
injured, constitute a criminal act committed in international waters.
(BBC News - Deaths as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship).
In a cruel irony, Netanyahu, in a recent statement, committed himself to
peace with Palestine: "We want to move as speedily as possible to direct
talks because the kind of problem that we have with the Palestinians can
be resolved in peace and can be arranged only if we sit down together".
Several prominent personalities as well as several Global Research
authors and partners were on board the ships.
The May 31st strike is a follow-up on "Operation Cast" initiated in late
December 2008. It is meant to enforce the status of Gaza as a de facto urban
Operation "Cast Lead" was part of a broader military-intelligence operation
initiated at the outset of the Ariel Sharon government in 2001. It was under
Sharon's "Operation Justified Vengeance" that F-16 fighter planes were
initially used to bomb Palestinian cities. The strike on the Freedom
Flotilla is part of the logic of transforming Gaza into an urban
"Operation Justified Vengeance" was presented in
July 2001 to the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon by IDF chief of staff
Shaul Mofaz, under the title "The Destruction of the Palestinian Authority
and Disarmament of All Armed Forces".
"Operation Justified Vengeance" was also
referred to as the "Dagan Plan", named after General (ret.) Meir Dagan, who
currently heads Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. (See Ellis Shulman,
Operation Justified Vengeance, A Secret to Destroy the
Palestinian Authority, Global Research, 2002)
Meir Dagan, in coordination with his US
counterparts, had been put in charge of various military-intelligence
operations. It is worth noting that Meir Dagan as a young Colonel had worked
closely with then defense minister
Ariel Sharon in the raids on Palestinian
settlements in Beirut in 1982.
The 2009 ground invasion of Gaza, in many regards, bear a canny resemblance
to the 1982 military operation led by Sharon and Dagan.
Dagan as head of Israeli intelligence, no doubt also took part in the
decision to launch the strike on the Freedom Flotilla.
Was the Decision Taken
in Consultation with Washington?
On May 26, the Israeli military (IDF) confirmed that it would confront the
Freedom Flotilla in international waters, while intimating that there may be
terrorist elements on board the ships:
"As part of the military preparation, the
navy carried out an exercise intercepting ships and arresting
Navy Commander Major-General Eliezer Marom said the navy forces will use
measures to protect the soldiers' lives and ensure that there are no
terrorist elements or explosives on the ships.
Marom said he instructed the forces to act sensibly and avoid
provocations, adding that the IDF had no intention of harming the
hundreds of passengers on board these ships."
(Israel's Military Command Says Will Stop
Flotilla, but Transfer Supplies to Gaza)
It is worth noting that prior to this
announcement, the IDF launched a public relations campaign, describing the
Flotilla as a "provocative act":
"Head of Gaza 's Coordination and Liaison
Authority, Colonel Moshe Levi convened a press conference and said that
there was no shortage in food and supplies in the Strip.
"The planned flotilla to Gaza is a provocative act that is unnecessary
under the existing conditions in the Gaza Strip, where the humanitarian
situation is good and stable," he said, adding that Israel allows many
products into the Strip, and only limits those that might serve Hamas in
advancing terror activities."
Washington was fully aware as to the nature as
well as the likely consequences of the IDF naval operation in international
waters, including the killings of civilians.
There are indications that the decision was
taken in consultation with Washington.
The Role of Rahm
Obama's White House Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel was in Israel in the week
prior to the launching of the raid on the Freedom Flotilla.
Although on a private visit, Rahm Emanuel met Prime Minister Netanyahu in
high level discussions on May 26. Rahm Emanuel also met president Shimon
Peres on May 27.
The White House described the May 26 meeting
with Netanyahu as,
"an informal discussion of a range of issues
in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship."
And on that same day (May 26), the IDF confirmed
the launching of a military operation directed against the Freedom Flotilla.
On May 26, Rahm Emanuel also extended an invitation to Netanyahu to meet
president Obama in early June following his scheduled official visit to
In recent developments, Netanyahu has cancelled
his US trip and is returning to Tel Aviv.
The Broader Military
It should be understood that the raid on the Flotilla also coincided with
NATO-Israel war games directed against Iran.
According to the Sunday Times,
"three German-built Israeli submarines
equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf
near the Iranian coastline."
(Israel Deploys Three Nuclear Cruise
Missile-Armed Subs Along Iranian Coastline).
The report tacitly presents Israel as the victim
rather than the perpetrator of military threat:
"Israel’s business and defense centre,
remains the most threatened city in the world, said one expert. “There
are more missiles per square foot targeting Tel Aviv than any other
city,” he said.
... The first [submarine] has been sent in response to Israeli fears
that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a
political and military organization in Lebanon, could hit sites in
Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.
The submarines of Flotilla 7 - Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan - have
visited the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a
permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.
The flotilla’s commander, identified only as “Colonel O”, told an
“We are an underwater assault force. We’re operating
deep and far, very far, from our borders.”
... The deployment is designed to act as a deterrent, gather
intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents.
“We’re a solid base
for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in
one place,” said a flotilla officer.
The submarines could be used if Iran continues its program to produce
a nuclear bomb.
“The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles
can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.
Apparently responding to the Israeli activity, an Iranian admiral said:
“Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a
forceful response from us.”
Israel’s urgent need to deter the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance was
demonstrated last month.
Ehud Barak, the defense minister, was said to
have shown President Barack Obama classified satellite images of a
convoy of ballistic missiles leaving Syria on the way to Hezbollah in
While these naval deployments were underway in
the Persian Gulf, Israel was also involved in war games in the Mediterranean.
The war game codenamed "MINOAS 2010" was carried out at a Greek air base in
Souda Bay, on the island of Crete.
Also, in the wake of the decision directed against Israel's nuclear weapons
under the auspices of the NPT, the White House reaffirmed not only its
support to Israel, but also to Israel's nuclear weapons capabilities.
statement issued one day before the raid on the flotilla points to US
"Israel's strategic and deterrence capabilities, which also
include the launching of a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran:
"a senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday that Israel received
guarantees from U.S. President
Barack Obama that the U.S. would maintain and
improve Israel's strategic and deterrence capabilities.
According to the source,
"Obama gave [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu
unequivocal guarantees that include a substantial upgrade in Israel-U.S.
Obama promised that no decision taken during the recent 189-nation
conference to review and strengthen the 40-year-old Nuclear
Non-proliferation Treaty "would be allowed to harm Israel's vital
interests," the sources said. Obama promised to bolster Israel's
strategic capabilities, Jerusalem officials say."
Haaretz Daily Newspaper
The presence of Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in Tel Aviv undoubtedly
played a role in the timing of
this Sunday May 30 statement as well as the
concurrent strike on the Freedom Flotilla.
The Obama administration had
given the green light to the deadly raids in international waters.
The killing of unarmed civilians was part of the mandate of the Israeli
naval commando. It was an integral part of the logic of Dagan's "Operation
Justified Vengeance", which presents Israel as the victim rather than the
perpetrator and uses civilian deaths "on both sides" to justify a process of
The action by the IDF has triggered a wave of indignation throughout the
It will no doubt also trigger a response by Palestinian
resistance forces, including possible suicide bomb attacks inside Israel,
which could then be used by Israel as a pretext and justification for the
launching a broader military operation.
Iran is being portrayed in Western media reports as supportive of Hamas and
the Freedom Flotilla is said to be backed by a tacit Hamas-Iran alliance.
Realities are turned upside down. Israel is the victim.
In the words of
"Our soldiers had to defend themselves to defend their
In the words of Netanyahu at a press briefing in Ottawa:
“Soldiers had boarded the vessel to check for any rockets, missiles or
explosives headed for Gaza to be used for attacks on Israel, he said. They
were mobbed, they were clubbed, they were beaten, stabbed, there was even a
report of gunfire, and our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their
lives or else they would have been killed," he said Monday during a visit
with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Netanyahu added: “Regrettably in the exchange at least 10 people died. We
regret this loss of life. We regret any of the violence that was there. I
would like to wish speedy recovery to the wounded, including four of our own
(Quoted in the Toronto Star, May 31, 2010)
Meanwhile, a White House spokesman has confirmed that the United States
"deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained".
But the action by
Israel has not been condemned by the Obama administration:
administration is "currently working to understand the circumstances
surrounding this tragedy."
(See The Associated Press:
concerned about Gaza incident)
For further details on Operation Cast Lead and Operation Justified