VIDEO UPDATE: This is the longer 9:35 version of the video which shows shot civilians and reports of two dead before the Israeli commandos even land on the ship. Any violence in international waters by the passengers is clearly self-defence. Organisers are trying to keep everyone calm but despite the hoisting of the white flag you can still hear shots. There is some English commentary as three reporters share the microphone.
Israel has done the unthinkable and attacked the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, one of the peace ships bringing humanitarian aid to the stricken people of Gaza, killing at least 16 people with dozens injured. These are idealists, civilians, some mothers' sons and daughters who were killed in international waters, 80 miles off the Gazan coast.
The ships hold 600 civilian activists including Parliamentarians, women, children and the elderly.
Following much harassment of the Freedom Flotilla aid craft by Israel since they left northern (Turkish) Cyprus, Israeli armed commandos stormed the boat from helicopters in the early hours of this morning. They had guns, the activists had sticks. Firing continued after the white flag had been raised.
I wonder if they thought the BP oil spill Top Kill failure and the environmental catastrophe was the chance to bury bad news and carry out their own killing from above.
Is Sweden the only country with any spine? it has withdrawn its ambassador in protest. And there is public fury in Turkey with demonstrations being held. A protest is planned for today at Downing Street in London, no doubt complete with brutish policing and prison sentences handed down to people who object to state murder if the last one at the Israel Embassy is anything to go by. But what's Britain's media doing? Giving these murderers a free ticket in the media. In biased and imbalanced reporting, the BBC allowed the Israel government several minutes to present their propaganda while including NO pro-Palestinian voice.
The general level of reporting is abominable. Even while explaining the background, The Telegraph says:
Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza after the strip was taken over by the militant group Hamas in 2007. It has allowed some food and medical supplies through, but has prevented large-scale rebuilding following the bombardment and invasion of 2008-9.
The fact the Telegraph and others find so unpalatable is that Hamas, like them or loathe them, were voted in by the Gazans in a free democratic election.
Even Twitter is blocking searches of the hashtag #flotilla. How superior is our side when it comes to human rights and freedom of speech.
No civiilsed country can maintain diplomatic relations with this pariah terrorist state, let alone continue arming and throwing money at it. Israel has yet again breached international law. On a hubristic high from getting away with assassinations in foreign countries and slaughtering Gazans in the sliver of land left to them, Israel has gone nuts with the West's connivance. The Turkish ship was from a NATO country, two of the ships flew American flags. Britain and the EU must condemn Israel's illegal action.
UPDATE: At the end of its online report, the BBC asks:
Do you know someone aboard these ships? What is your reaction to this story? Send us your comments, pictures and videos. Send your pictures and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org or text them to 61124 (UK) or 0044 7725 100 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.
OK, peeps, you know what to do.
UPDATE 2: Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague has deplored the loss of life and called for the end to the Gaza blockade by Israel.
Did Twitter censor the #flotilla hashtag as it was trending?
UPDATE 3: Contrary to the BBC News 24 report, there is at least one British person on the convoy, former journalist and George Galloway's assistant, Kevin Ovenden. See his reports for Viva Palestina here. (This oversight may be due to the UK left's practice of preaching to the converted and not sending out press releases. Have you forgotten already, Kevin? Hope you are safe. But do please learn to use the bloody media!) There may be 27 British nationals on the ships.
UPDATE 4: Adam Gabbatt is writing the Guardian's Live Blog on the deadly Freedom Flotilla attack by Israel. He writes:
@MadamMiaow has pointed me to a blogpost from Kevin Ovenden, a Briton from the Viva Palestina charity who was on the Mavi Marmara in the flotilla (see 11.08am).
Ovenden appears to have been writing as Israel boats approached the flotilla.
We are 90 miles away from land - 22 miles further than the Israeli decided 68 mile exclusion zone - but are being approached by an Israeli vessel. [...]
This is a very serious situation, and we are calling on everyone to play their part in helping ensure their safety, and that the aid reaches Gaza without difficulty.
Full article here.
Pulse keeps tracks of BBC bias
UPDATE 5: The UN Security Council condemns the raid on the Freedom Flotilla but refuses to name Israel in a grotesquely absurd bit of politicking. Meanwhile, Cameron's weasel words: he describes the attack as "unacceptable" and calls for a "constructive" response to "legitimate criticism" of its actions. Ooh, tough! Everyone except Turkey is placating Israel while 700 international civilians remain kidnapped and held in isolation while the Foreign office dithers. Eyewitness accounts are beginning to surface as activists are deported, describing how armed IDF rappelled onto the ship shooting as they dropped. Confirmed by three German current and former MPs. Reports of one Briton injured but Viva Palestina officer and journalist Kevin Ovenden OK.
"Gaza #flotilla drives Israel into a sea of stupidity." Haaretz