By 1948, under David Ben Gurion’s direction, the Israeli government developed the Israeli Terrorist Cell, Unit 131. In the mid 1950s, the U.S. was friends with Gamal Abdel Nasser and Egypt. Ben Gurion, an avid Zionist and the Israel’s first Prime Minister, envisioned an Egyptian terrorist attack against the U.S. in order to destroy that alliance. However, that wasn’t a probability, given the relationship between the two countries. So the Israeli government developed a pattern of using young Israelis who disguised themselves as terrorists of whichever country they were attempting to implicate. This concept would be applied during Operation Cyanide, involving the USS Liberty, in an attempt to initiate World War III.
On May 23, according to instructions from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Cyrus R. Vance, the Liberty, commanded by William L. McGonagle, was directed to the eastern Mediterranean via Rota, Spain and placed under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, Europe upon its arrival at Rota.  Frank Raven, the G Group Chief resisted such a risky move, “The ship will be defenseless out there. If war breaks out, she’ll be alone and vulnerable. Either side might start shooting at her…I say the ship should be left where it is.” 
Army General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, of Northwoods fame, put Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. (father of Senator John McCain), the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Navy in Europe in charge. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, per President Johnson’s instructions had advanced Admiral McCain to a four-star commanding position in February 1967.  Admiral John McCain directed operations from his office in London.  Johnson promised continued support and help in re-opening the Straits of Tiran, previously closed to Israel by Egypt. Israel was already developing a nuclear program in the Negev desert, but also wanted additional military assistance including — 100 Hawk missiles, 140 Patton tanks, and 24 Skyhawk jets.  John P. Roche, an avid supporter of Israel, wrote Johnson’s speech regarding the Straits of Tiran which was delivered in May 1967.  Johnson had many Jewish advisors and friends including Mathilde Krim.
Mathilde Krim’s first husband was David Danon, a Bulgarian Jew and member of the Irgun, a terrorist group. She converted to Judaism and associated with many of Israel’s future leaders, as she had been a dedicated gunrunning member of Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, prior to 1948. She was also friendly with the Stern Gang, another Zionist terrorist group founded by Avraham Stern and headed by Yitzhak Shamir. In 1958 she married Arthur B. Krim, a New York attorney and head of United Artists and a close advisor to Johnson and an avid Zionist. Krim was the finance chairman for the Democratic national committee and ran the President’s Club, Johnson’s fund-raising apparatus that held a $1,000 a plate dinner in New York on June 3, 1967. Arthur Krim built a huge vacation mansion next door to Johnson’s Texas ranch. 
On June 3, 1967, the USS Liberty was trolling in international waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip where the ship was to engage in an “extended independent surveillance operation in the eastern Mediterranean.”  Israel launched a long-planned war against her Arab neighbors at 7:45 a.m. Sinai time on June 5, 1967. In 1982, Menachem Begin, then Israel’s Prime Minister, admitted, “The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”  Mordechai Bentov, a member of Israel’s coalition cabinet during the war, said, “All this story about the danger of extermination has been a complete invention and has been blown up a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territories.” 
President Johnson, an apparently energetic philanderer given the number and notoriety of his sexual exploits, was in Texas until June 1 when he returned with his “friend” Mathilde Krim who remained at the White House with Johnson for the next week. When Johnson, who was absolutely dazzled by Mathilde’s blonde beauty and intelligence, was informed of the beginning of the war on the morning of June 5. The very first person he informed was Mathilde Krim. Official records indicate that Mathilde passed documents from Israel directly to Johnson over the duration of the crisis. Johnson didn’t meet with his advisors, except Walt Rostow, nor any Israeli or Arab officials during the duration of the very short war, he knew exactly what was going on with the Israelis due to his intimate relationship with Mathilde Krim. 
It was evident, as that first day progressed, that Egypt was unprepared and inundated by Israel’s aggressiveness. Ambassador Michael Hadow, a British expert on Israel and the Middle East didn’t believe that war was inevitable.  Yet his advice, as well as negotiation possibilities were ignored. He sent a telegram to the British Foreign Office, “It looks as if the Israelis started it. We have been led up the garden path.”  Abba Eban, Israel’s Foreign Minister, told U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour that his government was going to protest Egypt’s actions to the U.N. Security Council.  Eban, along with other dignitaries, misled the entire world but never offered any apologies for his deception about Egypt initiating the war. The Western media characterized Israel as a vulnerable country threatened with extinction by its Arab neighbors. Rather than a war of land seizure, it was portrayed as a defensive war of survival. However, Israel kept the land her military grabbed. 
Of course it was all over the news and millions of Americans believed that the Arabs had started the war and attacked the poor defenseless state of Israel, an act that could have erupted into World War III. Although both parties, the Arabs and the Jews had participated in the warfare, the Israelis were the only people who had immediate access to President Johnson any time they wanted. Conversely, the Arabs were silenced by their inaccessibility to the White House and the U.S. media. 
Yitzhak Rabin, former Chief of Staff and then Ambassador to the United States, said, “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war…The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.” Rabin recognized that any country with good intelligence, like Israel, could ascertain that Egypt had no plans to wage war against Israel. The CIA, before the war, embraced Israel’s views about Egypt’s intentions. Israel would have won any war, a veritable turkey shoot, in a week.  Further, Israeli intelligence had broken the Arab codes as soon as the fighting started. The Israelis also had the ability to block and alter all communications between King Hussein in Cairo and Egypt’s military. Israel, with military and tactical superiority, altered the communications to give the Arabs the impression that they were winning when in fact they were being ambushed and summarily slaughtered. 
Israel had air supremacy immediately after their surprise attack on Egypt. Within hours, Israeli jets pummeled twenty-five air bases from Damascus, in Syria to Luxor. They used machine guns, mortar fire, tanks and air power in their assault against the Jordanian section of Jerusalem and the Jordan River’s west bank. Israeli tanks and auxiliary personnel transporters assaulted the Sinai moving towards the Suez Canal. They transformed the area into a “massive killing field” as Egyptian deaths, according to one Israeli general, amounted to between 7,000 to 10,000 people. His losses were only about 275 soldiers. Indian peacekeeper soldiers, flying the U.N. flag, were also attacked on their way to Gaza. Fourteen peacekeeper soldiers were killed in what one Indian officer called the “deliberate, cold-blooded killing of unarmed U.N. soldiers.” 
The Israelis had captured some Egyptians and held them in the town of El Arish. By June 8, the prisoners had become annoyances as the Israelis had no place to house them and insufficient forces to guard them and too few vehicles to move them to regular prison camps. Consequently, the Israelis transformed the town into a “slaughterhouse” by methodically “butchering” their Egyptian prisoners. They lined up sixty unarmed Egyptians with their hands tied behind their backs and, with machine guns, slaughtered them in cold blood. Another group of thirty prisoners were killed nearby. The Israelis directed some Bedouins to bury those victims. In another incident, the number of Egyptian prisoners killed totaled about 150, as witnessed by an Israeli journalist, Gabi Bron. Some prisoners were forced to dig graves for the dead and then they were shot. Aryeh Yitzhaki, an Israeli army historian, and other officers collected testimony from dozens of soldiers who admitted killing Egyptian prisoners. According to Yitzhaki, Israeli soldiers murdered about 1,000 Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai, including about 400 in El Arish. Ariel Sharon was close to El Arish at the time of the incidents. Yitzhaki said that the Israeli leadership, Dayan, Rabin and others knew about the slaughter. 
The Liberty, close to El Arish at the time, and loaded with $10.2 million of sensitive equipment eavesdropped on Israel’s Six-Day War with Egypt, then known as the United Arab Republic. The Israelis were aware by 10:55 the morning of June 8 that a clearly-marked U.S. ship was off the coast and unmistakably visible from El Arish.  On that day, June 8, 1967, without any warning and apparently without reason, the Israeli Navy and Air Force attacked the ship with torpedoes, rockets, white phosphorous, cannons and armor-piercing bullets. The Israelis used napalm, a flammable liquid or jellied gasoline to turn the Liberty’s deck into a 3,000-degree holocaustic firestorm. Thirty-four Americans were killed and 171 others were wounded, one of which died later from his wounds.  Napalm is designed to kill and maim, generate panic and cause confusion. 
The first wave of attacks, comprised of as many as eight planes using heat-seeking missiles, destroyed the transformers (miraculously, all except one) which fed the aerial systems. This was a well-planned, premeditated strategy to prevent the USS Liberty from alerting the world of this murderous attack. The surveillance ship was no longer able to listen in to the war or send messages. If that was the objective of the attack, then the goal was met and the attack should have subsided. However, the real objective was to slaughter the crew and send the ship to the bottom.  Finally, the planes left only to be followed up by three surface craft which fired torpedoes. One hit below the water line and made a hole which measured 45 feet by 34 by 37. Amazingly, the ship didn’t sink but listed eleven degrees. When the crew inflated the lifeboats, the torpedo boats even destroyed those boats. 
The war was over by June 8 and Egypt had lost. The men on the Liberty first assumed that the Arabs, in unmarked planes and ships, were attacking their ship in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel.  There were 294 survivors from the premeditated Israeli attack, directed by Moshe Dayan. The remains of five men were never found and body parts were put into sacks for burial. 
Vice Admiral William I. Martin, a former World War II test pilot and “Pentagon loyalist,” had assumed command of the Sixth Fleet in April 1967.  During Israel’s assault there were several U.S. ships in the area, the aircraft carrier Saratoga commanded by Captain Joseph Tully, the Flagship commanded by Vice Admiral Martin, a Cruiser commanded by Rear Admiral Roger Payne, the USS America, a new aircraft carrier was under the command by Captain Don Engen. Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis was the Sixth Fleet carrier Division Commander. Additionally, there were approximately a dozen escorting destroyer ships. The Saratoga’s Communications Officer received a message from the Liberty, addressed to any or all U.S. ships or stations, “Liberty is under attack by unknown enemy air and surface units. Request Assistance.” 
Help was only about 15 to 20 minutes away from the Liberty. Captain Tully notified Vice Admiral Martin and said, “Unless otherwise directed, I plan to launch my Ready Strike Group in support of Liberty.” Martin approved and directed the USS America to launch their Ready Strike Group. However Rear Admiral Geis of the USS America recalled his aircraft which created a dilemma for Captain Tully. Vice Admiral ordered another strike to give aid to the Liberty but it was again recalled by Rear Admiral Geis.   According to an independent, unofficial study, the “The White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty by recalling Sixth Fleet military rescue support while the ship was under attack…”  McNamara recalled the aircraft that had been launched from the Saratoga within minutes. Certainly, he would not have made such a move without Johnson’s approval. 
Secretary McNamara ordered the aircraft recalled a second time. Admiral Geis was told that President Johnson had ordered the aircraft to be returned, “He would not have his allies embarrassed, he didn’t care who was killed or what was done to the ship.”  According to Admiral Geis, President Johnson, known for his ruthlessness and vile profanity told Geis, “I want that goddamn ship going to the bottom. No help — recall the wings.”  Tony Hart, a Navy communications technician stationed at the U.S. Navy Base in Morocco in June 1967 reported that McNamara responded, “We are not going to war over a bunch of dead sailors.”  If the Liberty had sunk, as Johnson wanted, Egypt would have been blamed. Government officials, including the McCains have maintained absolute silence about the Liberty’s assault.
The attack ended at about 3:15 pm. A while later, Israeli helicopters circled the ship. Some of the crewmembers, not yet realizing that Israel was the perpetrator of the attack, were glad to see their friendly ally. Then one crewmember shouted, “They’ve come to finish us off.” The copters just hovered as the Israeli troops watched without signaling and then soared away as if the attack had finally been called off. The survivors were stunned by what had happened and by the total lack of response from U.S. rescue planes. The ship generated sufficient steam to start moving from the area. There were 851 rocket hits and it was estimated that there were at least fifteen planes that had targeted the USS Liberty. One hit could be rationalized as an accident but not 851. 
Captain Ward Boston, the chief Navy attorney for the 1967 U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, revealed that the clear-cut evidence demonstrated that the ship was clearly marked as an American ship. On October 9, 2003, Captain Boston said, “Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack…was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.” Captain Boston stated that Admiral Kidd had, in 1967, concluded that the attack was “a case of mistaken identity” because he was “under direct orders to do so by Defense Secretary McNamara and President Johnson.”  At the time, Congress, failing in their check and balances responsibility, opted not to convene a formal investigation of the situation. Israel was not held accountable and no one was punished or reprimanded.  The U.S. Navy prohibited its investigators from going to Israel to question Israeli pilots and boat captains. The Navy conducted an eight-day inquiry and issued a top-secret final report. 
Prior to the attack, Petty Officer Phil Tourney had determined that there had been at least thirteen over flights by Israeli planes. Two of the over-flights were by planes that had the prominent Star of David plainly visible. One plane got so incredibly close that Tourney waved and smiled at the pilot or co-pilot and he smiled and waved back.  The survivors knew that the attack was not the result of an identification error. On the fourth day of the war the men on the USS Liberty who were monitoring radio traffic during the war between Israel and Egypt could see the smoke of the fighting even though the ship was thirteen miles from land within international waters. The militarily superior Israelis were decidedly victorious over Egypt. 
Yitzhak Rabin, the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, concluded that Israel was not to blame for the attack on the USS Liberty but said, “In any event, to express our goodwill and humanitarian concern, the Israeli Government paid $13 million in compensation to the families of the Americans killed or wounded in the attack.” 
On June 19, 1967, Abba Eban, Israel’s Foreign Minister, delivered a speech to the Special Assembly of the United Nations in which he claimed, “The danger to his country was great.” He said, “The military build-up in Egypt proceeded at an intensive rate. It was designed to enable Egypt to press its war plans against Israel while maintaining its violent adventures elsewhere. In the face of these developments, Israel was forced to devote an increasing part of its resources to self-defense.” Eban claimed he heard the following on a Cairo broadcast on May 25, 1967, “The Arab people is firmly resolved to wipe Israel off the map and restore the honour of the Arabs of Palestine.” Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Prime Minister, in a newspaper article in October 1967, “The Egyptian layout in the Sinai and the general military build-up there testified to a military defensive Egyptian set-up south of Israel.” Ezer Weizman, chief of the operations staff under Rabin, told an Israeli newspaper that there was “no threat of destruction.” He admitted that the attack against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria was intended to allow Israel to “exist according to the scale, spirit and quality she now embodies.”  Rabin’s deceptive claims were designed to win the world’s support and ultimately blame the war on Nasser. 
Operation Cyanide was the reason that the USS Liberty was sent to the war zone without protection. Yet, thirty years after the attack, there isn’t a single reference to Operation Cyanide despite numerous Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the attack. The Government archives for this period are kept at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, Texas. Among all of the papers about the Liberty there is one dated April 10, 1967 stamped — SECRET — EYES ONLY. That document was “sanitized” in December 1988. It was apparently the minutes from a meeting on April 7, 1967 that included Walt Rostow (National Security Advisor), Ambassador Foy Kohler (Deputy Under Secretary of State), Cyrus Vance (Deputy Secretary of Defense), and Admiral Rufus Taylor (CIA Deputy Chief). 
Apparently, Operation Cyanide included an Israeli war against Egypt in order to depose Gamal Abdul Nasser, a purported Soviet puppet. U.S. intelligence and military specialists were sent to Israel months before to plan and prepare for the operation. The operation was an agreement between Johnson and Israel during which the USS Liberty was supposed to be sunk, along with all of her crew. When Israel’s attack failed to sink the ship, the game plan changed which included an apology from Israel and a phony cover story.  According to author Peter Hounam, a U.S. intelligence agent claimed that Captain McGonagle was aware of the pretext and the intentions of the U.S. to attack Egypt and had been briefed to anticipate a superficial strafing attack on the USS Liberty.  The attack unexpectedly accelerated, perhaps because what the Liberty’s surveillance revealed about Israel’s terrorism against the Egyptians.
Ephraim Evron, the Minister of the Israeli Embassy in Washington in 1967 and an avowed Socialist, served with Ambassador Avraham Harman. Evron, who viewed Johnson as a hero, was frequently invited to Johnson’s Texas ranch. In addition to Evron and Harman, Harry McPherson, Special Counsel in the White House, served as a link between Johnson and the country’s Jewish population and represented their interests. Evron greatly admired Johnson and regarded him as the greatest thing that had ever happened to America for the “social revolution” that Johnson was “going to achieve.” He believed that Johnson, Israel’s best friend, would never do anything that would hurt Israel. Johnson’s affection for Jews and Israel had more to do with their votes and financial support than sentimentality or principles. The very generous U.S. Jewish community, amounting to 5.5 million, supported Johnson’s divisive Vietnam policies. 
In the mid 1990s Rabin attempted to achieve peace with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat with the U.S. acting as the mediator. Some of the other Zionists saw this as a hindrance to their plans of expanding Israel’s control of the area for an ultimate “greater Israel.” Consequently, whether acting on his own or as an agent, Yigal Amir, a young law student, shot five bullets into the Prime Minister when he was attending a 1995 peace rally. He later told investigators that he had absolutely no regrets. In the New York Times, dated November 27, 1995, Rabin’s assassin reportedly claimed, “According to Jewish law, the minute a Jew betrays his people and country to the enemy, he must be killed. No one taught me that law. I’ve been studying the Talmud all my life, and I have all the data.” 
Senator John McCain, backed by William Kristol in the 2000 presidential race, has always supported Israel. Representative Vin Weber, a pro-Israel member of the CFR, helped found William Kristol’s Empower America. Weber backed McCain in the 2000 and advised McCain during his campaign. Representative Weber sabotaged “an effort to force a congressional investigation of Israel’s terroristic 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Liberty.”  Robert S. McNamara later claimed, in his memoirs, that he didn’t know what happened and didn’t “take the time to find out.” The attack on the USS Liberty, part of Operation Cyanide, had to be concealed and all evidence had to be whitewashed. 
It took another false flag, 9/11, to get the U.S. embroiled in the Middle East. A 9/11 Commission was convened despite Bush and Cheney’s efforts. But, it took time to gather the right people to staff the commission which predictably failed to reach accurate conclusions because essential evidence was withheld by the government. One member, Bob Kerrey, admitted that 9/11 was a thirty- year conspiracy.  Shortly after 9/11, Eckehardt Werthebach, the former president of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz said, “the deathly precision” and “the magnitude of planning” behind the attacks would have required “years of planning.”  Was 9/11 another false flag, with blame again placed on the Arabs, to compensate for the flubbed-up false flag on June 8, 1967? And if that is the case, did the planning begin shortly after the first failure? Benjamin Netanyahu, the day after the horrific event, said that the 9/11 terror attacks were good for Israel.  The five Israelis who were in the U.S. prior to 9/11 and were caught photographing the event admitted, “Our purpose was to document the event.” 
© Deanna Spingola
The American nuclear industry, primed to begin new construction projects for the first time in 30 years, is about as eager for an operating problem at an old reactor as the oil industry was for a well blowout on the eve of opening the Atlantic coast to oil drilling.
Nonetheless, a nuclear reactor where a hidden leak caused near-catastrophic corrosion in 2002 has experienced a second bout of the same problem.
In 2002, the plant, Davis-Besse, in Oak Harbor, Ohio, developed leaks in parts on the vessel head, allowing cooling water from inside the vessel, at 2,200 pounds per square inch of pressure, to leak out.
The cooling water contains boric acid, which is used to control the speed of the nuclear reaction, and the acid ate away a chunk of the steel the size of a football, leaving nothing but a thin stainless-steel liner to maintain the reactor’s integrity.
Nuclear experts characterized it as a startling near-miss. Plants around the country had experienced leaks in the vessel head, but none nearly this serious.
The plant was shut for 14 months. First Energy Nuclear Operating Company, which owns it, eventually brought in a replacement head of similar design from a reactor in Midland, Mich., that had been abandoned during construction.
The company assumed it had solved the problem. But recently the new vessel head showed the same leakage pattern. Once again, the parts prone to leaking are nozzles through which the control rods for the reactor pass. When the rods are inserted, they choke off the flow of neutrons that sustains the reaction; when they are withdrawn, the reactor starts up. But the nozzles are prone to a problem called “stress corrosion cracking,’’ leading to the leaks.
It is not clear why Davis-Besse’s problem is more serious than other plants have had, although it surfaced in 2002 that First Energy had won approval to delay inspections that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wanted. (When the problem became clear, those approvals set off a crisis of confidence for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.)
Another problem may be the metal used in the original nozzles — the same metal used in the nozzles on the Midland reactor. While the vessel head from Midland “didn’t have any hours on it,’’ said Todd Schneider, a spokesman for Davis-Besse, it is of an older design.
The reactor has 69 nozzles, and the utility has modified 24 of them in preparation for starting up again in a few weeks. The long-term fix is yet another vessel head, with nozzles of a sturdier alloy, to be installed in 2014.
In the interim, the company said, it will opt for a shorter production run. It had been operating with one refueling every 24 months, but when it gets going again, its run will be about 100 days shorter, because “we want to be able to look at it sooner,” Mr. Schneider said.
And the reactor will run at a very slightly lower temperature, about two or three degrees less than the usual 606.5 degrees Fahrenheit at the vessel head, to slow down any damaging chemical reaction, he added. Refueling of the reactor began on Monday.
Following is my (rough) translation of excerpts from the first part of Taraf newspaper’s two-part interview with Ayşe Sarıoğlu, a 27-year-old graduate student at Istanbul University, who was on board the Mavi Marmara. Sarıoğlu begins the interview by explaining that although she is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, she participated in the expedition to Gaza as a journalist.
Readers will note Sarıoğlu’s description of fellow journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar, who was fatally shot during the raid and whose funeral Jasmin Ramsey and I attended this past Friday at Beyazıt Mosque in Istanbul. The fact that Kılıçlar is said to be holding a camera at the start of the attack provides yet more evidence of Israel’s all-inclusive application of the term “weapon.”
Excerpts from the second part of the Taraf interview, in which Sarıoğlu recounts her experience in Israeli custody, will be translated and posted shortly.
[The interviewer’s questions are in bold; Sarıoğlu’s responses follow]
» Was there much solidarity among the journalists on the ship? Did you know the murdered journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar?
Yes, Mr. Kılıçlar never left the press room on the ship. He was always working. I would even say to him: “We’re in such a nice place, we’re on a cruise ship. You should go outside a bit and get some sun.” But he hardly set foot on deck. He told me: “This isn’t a sightseeing trip, this is a work trip… We’ll do sightseeing another time.”…
» I will get to the raid [in a minute], but first I’m curious as to what you all on the ship were expecting [from the Israelis] and whether you realized you were in danger.
At the most we were expecting something along the lines of Taksim [square in Istanbul where protests are often held]… with tear gas, clubs, and commotion, nothing more. Actually we were even thinking [the Israelis] might use rubber bullets, and I thought to myself: “God protect us, a rubber bullet in the eye can blind you.”
» There were no weapons [on the Mavi Marmara]?
There were definitely no weapons. There were 30 gas masks which were distributed to journalists doing live broadcasts.
» As I understand it, the convoy’s goal was not only to bring aid materials [to Gaza] but also to break the siege, is that right?
The goal was to bring aid. We even had packaged toys and accompanying letters from Turkish children to the children of Gaza, addressed: “Dear brother.” It was very symbolic and meaningful and, looking back on it, it was so innocent…
» The ship’s Turkish flag was taken down during the raid, right?
Yes, but there were also the flags of Palestine, Syria, Kuwait, and all of the other countries. The Israeli soldiers tore down the flags first thing and threw them in the sea, starting with the Palestinian flag…
» Did the [soldiers] descend from helicopters?
Everything happened so fast. At the same time, they boarded us from boats and descended from helicopters by rope. And as they were descending they starting firing.
» As they were descending? [So they were firing] haphazardly?
Yes, haphazardly. Mr. Kılıçlar was at the front [of our group] with his camera in hand. And I remember him saying: “If they get to where the captain is our ship is gone. Friends, we must form a barricade.” But he wasn’t inciting anyone to fight, he was just trying to get them to form a wall with their bodies…
» Did the Israeli soldiers initially use rubber bullets?
That’s what we thought, but we were wrong. No rubber bullets were found anywhere. I actually hid some used bullets in my pocket that I found on the ground, but of course the soldiers took them from me afterwards… When I realized that people were being shot outside I immediately went inside, where an emergency center had been set up. Our doctors and nurses were there. The wounded started to be brought in…
» What did you do at that moment?
At that moment I thought, ‘There is a frightened, wounded person here who is losing blood and I am taking pictures of him. What should I do? Be a journalist? No, I can’t do this. I need to do something else, because there aren’t enough people here.’ And I decided to help. I don’t understand the first thing about first aid but I did whatever the nurses told me to do… There were so many wounded…
» Did [the people resisting the Israeli attack] take weapons from [a certain “captured” attacker]?
They took his weapon… and brought it downstairs but then someone said: “If Israel catches us with weapons it will be terrible”, and they immediately threw the weapon in the sea…
» Was the soldier beaten?
I’m not talking about a systematic beating but of course they hit him.
» What sort of shape was he in?
He was in shock… and shaking. His eyes filled with tears; I saw him crying.
» Were any other soldiers taken captive?
A total of 3 Israeli soldiers were captured, and the weapons belonging to all 3 were thrown in the sea. Nobody kept them.
» So at the same time that you were attending to the wounded, you were also watching what was happening with the soldiers…
Yes, because both the soldiers and the wounded had to come in through the same entrance…
» What sort of injuries were sustained [by those resisting the Israeli attack]? What did you see?
Should I really describe it?… On the ground there were pieces of people’s brains. I saw a skull bone, I saw brain pieces…
» [Following the attack], were the handcuffs [used on you] plastic?
Yes, they were plastic but they were very tight and [my hands were] behind my back… I said [to a soldier]: “I’m a member of the press.” He asked where my press card was. I said it was with all of my other possessions, in the press room. He said: “At this point it doesn’t matter anyway if you’re a journalist or not.”… It seemed as though the entire [Israeli] army was on top of us, and I asked myself how this many soldiers could be necessary for 600 people.
» Were there women among the [Israeli] soldiers?
Yes, I could tell from their voices and their hands. It was impossible to tell otherwise because their faces were masked.
» While waiting on deck what else… did you talk to the soldiers about?
I needed to go to the bathroom. I had waited for several hours. I got up and told a soldier, without asking permission, that I was going to the bathroom. He told me I couldn’t go. I asked why not. “You don’t want to see what is in there right now,” he said. “We are cleaning up inside. There are corpses. You can go after we clean.” I said: “I was already inside and I saw everything.” He told me to sit: “Shut up and sit down.”… As a woman I had the advantage of being able to speak to the soldiers more easily. Their behavior toward the men was much harsher.
» How long did you have to wait [on deck]?
From 7.30 in the morning until 1.20 in the afternoon. I kept looking at my watch. We were sitting under the sun. The [Israeli] helicopters kept pouring water on us, so everyone was going from wet to dry, freezing to burning…
» When you arrived to Ashdod Port what did you think [the Israelis] were going to do with you?
I thought they would probably put us on the first plane home.
» You never thought they were going to put you in jail?
No. We didn’t think they could do that, because we hadn’t done anything. It was the Israeli soldiers who had killed people… While we were waiting, I was watching Kağan [a Turkish baby on board the Mavi Marmara] with admiration. He never cried or got cranky; I can’t begin to tell you how calm he was…
… part 2
On June 6th, 2010, peace activists including members of Bay Area Women in Black and Jewish Voice for Peace held a silent vigil outside the main entrance to the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation’s annual “Israel in the Gardens” celebration. The peace activists called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territories and an end to the siege on Gaza. Their silent, dignified march was greeted by members of StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel and other affiliates who called them “kapos” (concentration camp prisoners who carried out Nazi orders on other prisoners) and suggested that Israel should “sink the next flotilla with you on it.” One man made repeated explicit threats against the peace activists and their families and used a camera to take pictures. No one from StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel intervened. Rather, they kept up their vicious and abusive chants which included, according to multiple witnesses:
“Nazi, Nazi, Nazi!” – this done as a group chant
“You’re all being identified, every last one of you…we will find out where you live. We’re going to make your lives difficult..we will disrupt your families…”, all on above video.
“Sink the flotilla—and you on it!”
“Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists.”
One man yelled (to someone who may have looked heat exhausted) “I hope you stroke out, old man!”
“Ugly bitches” said to older women.
“You’re not a Jew! you gave up your Jewishness!”
“Witches in black! Bitches in black!” (hard to tell which one it was, or whether they alternated the chant)
“Bin Laden loves you! you support terrorism!”
“Is there a coroner in the house? Women in Black are dead!”
“Is there a doctor in the house? Women in Black are sick!”
“End the occupation of our sidewalk.”
“Remember 9/11, they were dancing in the streets.”
“Sharmuta!” this was chanted for a while (means “slut” or “whore” in Arabic and which was particularly shocking for Arabic speakers to hear)
“Anti-women, anti-gay, why support Hamas today!”
They were also lesbian-baiting, even though they were chanting “Anti-women, anti-gay, why support Hamas today?” One guy yelled “lesbian” at me and my friend (correctly assessing our sexual identity) and maybe the same guy yelled at someone else, “When’s the last time you dated a man?”
One guy kept saying “you’re looking at real people now (meaning Stand with Israel folks); you are not people.”
Signs said: “JVP, Proud to be ashamed to be Jewish.”
and “Don’t fuck with the Jews”.
An 88-year-old woman reported being told, “You’re halfway in your grave already’.
“Jihad!” chanted repeatedly at Muslim peace activists.
They also had signs that read, “JVP cons the world”, etc.
One woman waved the end of the large stick of her Israeli flag in a very threatening manner, as if to hit one of us (it happened to me several times as i walked by her), directed especially to those of us who carried signs identifying ourselves as Jews.
At an earlier demonstration last week at the consulate, there was a huge sign on the Stand with Us side (which Stand with Us later condemned). On one side it said “Until Gaza is destroyed, the job is not complete.” On the other, it said “God is great. It’s Islam that sucks.”
Over the years, members of Bay Area Women in Black chapters (a group started in Israel to protest the occupation), many of them older women including physically tiny Jewish grandmothers, have reported equally terrible encounters with StandWithUs/SF Voices with Israel- they’ve been called 4-letter words, had cameras violently thrust in their faces. At least one person had her home chalked.
That’s why threats on people’s families that you can hear in the video are being taken seriously. A few weeks ago, liberal rabbi Michael Lerner, a resident of Berkeley across the bay from San Francisco, awoke to discover he was the target of a hate crime: his house had been surrounded with threatening posters permanently affixed with glue.
StandWithUs/SF Voices with Israel hosted a booth at Israel in the Gardens and is an approved charity at the San Francisco Federation’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund, unlike Jewish Voice for Peace and other peace groups which were banned from the Federation’s acceptable charity list.
Are StandWithUs/SF Voices with Israel values the values the Federation promotes?
During his most recent visit to the US, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu requested that the US provide him with Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs, rockets, aircraft ammunition and other weapons to vastly increase the “emergency stores” of weapons held by the US in Israel.
Israeli forces used Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon, and its 2009 assault on Gaza. In both of these invasions, the Israeli use of these U.S. supplied weapons resulted in heavy civilian casualties among those attacked by the Israeli army.
The Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs are constructed by the US weapons manufacturer Boeing, which claims that the bombs are free-fall bombs converted into guided missiles. Israeli officials say the bombs are needed for an upcoming prolonged, protracted war that would extensively utilize the Israeli airforce, according to Israeli sources.
The Israeli sources also claimed that Netanyahu, along with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani, have requested on multiple occasions in recent months that the US government double its so-called ‘emergency stores’ of weapons inside Israel in order to prepare for this planned protracted war. Although the report did not name any country, Israel’s recent threats against Iran make it clear that this is the potential ‘protracted war’ that is referenced in these requests.
Currently, the US stores of weapons in Israel are estimated at around $800 million worth of weapons, but Israel would like the US government to increase the store to $1.2 billion worth of weapons. These weapons stores were created by the Obama administration in December 2009, in preparation for a potential war, or to assist US forces currently fighting other wars in the Middle East. The US military is free to use the weapons from these stores as needed, and Israeli forces can use them with U.S. government permission.
U.S. must destroy its known munitions, but how many are there?
In recent self-congratulatory pronouncements, the U.S. Army heralded two “milestones” in its battle to bring an end to a frightening era of warfare.
In April, the Army announced it had destroyed all of the “non-stockpile,” or non-functioning, weapons it had declared nationwide when the United States entered into a treaty known as the Chemical Weapons Convention. Last week, officials at Utah’s Deseret Chemical Depot said they had destroyed the last mustard agent-filled munitions in their arsenal.
But in both cases, the Army left out a big, dirty and dangerous part of the picture: Thousands of munitions — many of which still hold the remnants of deadly chemical agents — have been left, poorly protected and broadly unaccounted for, in Utah’s vast west desert.
The weapons have never been declared to treaty partners. And the Army has no idea when, or if, it will ever do so.
‘An environmental nightmare’
Just to the south of Deseret’s colossal, modern weapons incinerator lies a scene worthy of a post-apocalyptic movie set.
Decades worth of toxic military trash — leaking paint cans and broken fire extinguishers, bulging oil drums and shattered tear gas canisters — fill ditches the size of swimming pools. Grenades, explosive fuses and cluster bombs litter the ground. In some areas, the soil has a green hue; military environmental experts believe that’s where napalm was dumped.
But the pièce de résistance is an artificial mountain of charred mortar shells, many of which are thought to carry the hardened remnants of one of the most vile weapons ever invented. […]
“This is an environmental nightmare,” said Troy Johnson, Deseret’s environmental program manager, during a tour of the dump last fall. […]
‘We can’t say for sure’
Army officials note that the weapons dumped in Utah’s desert couldn’t be dropped into a mortar tube or loaded into a rocket. “Non-stockpile” is the technical term for such discarded munitions.
But that alone doesn’t exempt the weapons from the treaty. Under the terms of the convention, any pieces “recovered” from places like the Deseret dump must be acknowledged and destroyed.
What constitutes a recovered weapon, however, appears to be a matter of semantics, budgets and national priorities.
Only about 1,200 non-stockpile munitions — mostly weapons captured from enemy nations during World War II — were declared to Russia and other treaty partners when the convention went into effect in 1997. Those are the weapons that, 13 years later, the Army is crowing about having destroyed from a small number of sites outside Utah.
About 1,200 more weapons pieces have been recovered since then as the military has cleared land once used for testing, said Chemical Munitions Agency spokeswoman Karen Jolley Drewen. “And we’re working on destroying those now,” she said.
How many weapons have yet to be recovered? “I don’t know,” Drewen said.
No one does.
The Army has identified 224 potential burial sites — including 48 in Utah. But there has been no estimate of how many potential chemical munitions those sites hold.
At the Utah site alone are “hundreds of thousands of rounds,” according to Johnson, the Deseret environmental program manager. In order to declare the weapons safe, under the treaty, “we would have to go through every one to make sure they are empty,” he said.
“Until those pieces are recovered, we can’t assess them and see what they are,” Drewen said. “We may have a real good idea of what they are, but we can’t say for sure.”
And the Army has little incentive to do so.
‘Until they’re dug up’
Under its treaty obligations, the U.S. has until 2012 to complete the destruction of its chemical arsenal, tightly guarded at Deseret and other sites. No one believes it will hit that mark — or even come close. Army officials say it may take another decade or longer to destroy the chemical munitions the U.S. declared under the convention.
And that’s a pretty good incentive not to attempt anything resembling recovery of the munitions at Deseret, said Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. “Places like Deseret aren’t covered under the treaty until they’re dug up,” said Siegel, who studies chemical-weapons issues for the center. “So of course there’s a reticence by the military of doing anything.”
But even if they were inclined to do so, Army officials say they don’t know how they would clean up the Utah dump.
“Deseret Chemical Depot is not unique in its past practices for disposal of munitions,” said Deseret’s communications chief, Alain Grieser. “Similar disposal operations were conducted at many military installations around the country over the same time period. However, the unique situation at DCD is that we have a combination of conventional and chemical agent munitions disposed in the same areas.”
The Army made an effort to collect the munitions from the site for destruction in the 1980s, Grieser said, but ultimately abandoned the task when it became clear that the bomb-by-bomb effort was too dangerous to continue, given the tremendous amount of unexploded ordnance littering the ground.
The current thinking is to employ robots — officials acknowledge that Disney’s Wall-E often comes to mind– to sort and collect the weapons. But that effort won’t likely begin for years to come, if it does at all.
‘Let sleeping dogs lie’
Given the years that have passed, and the dangers involved, Siegel said it might be best to just “let sleeping dogs lie” — though with one important caveat: “The argument I would make is that there needs to be an effort made to determine whether there is a pathway to human exposure,” he said.
The Army has done sporadic monitoring of groundwater underneath the dump, which rests at nearly a mile above sea level. From the limited data it has collected, the water appears to be moving away from population centers like Salt Lake City and Tooele, though monitors say they’ll need years of additional data to know for sure.
Pierce, the Healthy Environment Alliance leader from Utah, says she is troubled but not surprised by the Army’s lack of certainty, despite the decades it has had to study the dangers. “It’s not unlike the Army,” she said, “not to have an exit strategy.”
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The Egyptian Authorities stopped nine Egyptian Legislators at the Rafah Terminal who were trying to deliver construction supplies to Gaza.
In Sinai, Egyptian Authorities confiscated four trucks filled with cement and construction materials heading to Gaza.
Hazim Farouq, head of the Egyptian delegation, said that the authorities seized the trucks that were filled with cement and construction materials, and revoked the license cards of the drivers after threatening to arrest them when they were 20 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian Authorities then said that the trucks will not be allowed into Gaza although the Egyptian President ordered the opening of the Rafah Border Terminal until further notice.
The parliamentarian Change and Reform Bloc of the Hamas Movement, slammed the Egyptian authorities from preventing the Egyptian parliamentarians from entering Gaza, and called for allowing the entry of construction materials and other basic supplies.
Several Egyptian Islamist legislators, members of the convoy, started an open-ended protest in front of the Egyptian side of the Rafah Terminal, demanding that Egypt release the detained relief trucks.
Egyptian Legislator, Mohammad al-Biltaji, told the Ikhwan Online news Website, that the legislators will remain at the terminal and will not end their protest until the authorities release the confiscated aid trucks, and allow them to cross into Gaza.
Deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, called on Egypt to allow the legislators into Gaza.
It is worth mentioning that Russia also called for lifting the siege on Gaza in order to provide humanitarian and economic relief to the residents.
Five Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern part of the West Bank, received eviction orders from the Israeli military on Sunday, just days after Israeli settlers set up an illegal outpost on the families’ land and took over a water well in the area. The eviction orders told the families to vacate their homes and land within ten days so that Israeli troops could occupy it.
According to a town council member from Atuf, Abdallah Bisharat, the eviction will render 50 people homeless and, given that the families receiving the notices are farming families dependent on their land for their livelihoods. The evictions will be “devastating” for the families in question.
Bisharat told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an News, “[t]he lands the families are being evicted from have been inhabited by the farming and herding groups for many years. They are the pastoral lands from which hundreds of residents make their livings. The Israeli order to evacuate means a total destruction of the social fabric.”
The five Palestinian families who received eviction orders described the recent establishment of an Israeli settler outpost on their land as terrifying, as the settlers are armed, and have the full protection of the Israeli military. The Palestinian farmers are unprotected and vulnerable, although most retain titles to their land dating back to the Ottoman empire.
The settler outpost is considered illegal by the Israeli government, but the Israeli military has nonetheless been deployed to protect it, and have, over the last week, invaded the village on multiple occasions and broken into people’s homes.
At the same time, the armed Israeli settlers who set up trailers on the Palestinian farmers’ land last week took control of the area’s only water well, and have prevented the local indigenous Palestinian population from accessing the water. According to Bisharat, when the villagers went to the nearby Israeli military base to tell them about the water takeover, “ we were told to get water from the other villages and collect it in tanks”.
The Jordan Valley, in the eastern West Bank, is an area listed for takeover by the Israeli state in Israeli government documents. The area is among the most fertile land in the West Bank, and Israeli government officials have been quoted as saying that this land should be taken over for the state of Israel – despite its discontiguity with the rest of what is now Israel.