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Activists: Israeli boat raiders had ‘assassination list’

By Daniel Tencer
Saturday, June 5, 2010 21:15 EDT
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Dem lawmaker: Prosecute US members of Gaza flotilla

Passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, the ship raided by Israel Monday, claim they found what they say is a list of people the Israeli military intended to target during their raid, a news report out of Great Britain states.

In an interview with the UK’s Independent on Sunday, Al Jazeera reporter Jamal Elshayyal said passengers who rummaged through Israeli solders’ belongings during the raid found a list of names, accompanied with pictures, of people aboard the flotilla that aimed to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

The Independent‘s Catrina Stewart reports:

[T]he protesters rummaged through captured soldiers’ belongings and claimed to unearth a document that they allege is a list of people Israel intended to assassinate. The booklet, written in Hebrew and in English, contained some photographs of passengers on the Marmara, including the leader of IHH, the Turkish charity that provided two of the ships, an 88-year-old priest and Ra’ad Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Mr Elshayyal said.

A military spokesman, Lt Col Avital Leibowitz, insisted soldiers acted in self-defense and that she “was not aware” of any list.

The allegations appear to directly contradict the Israeli government’s claim that its Marines arrived aboard the Mavi Marmara unprepared for violence, and were taken by surprise by angry activists. The passengers’ claim of an “assassination list” has not been corroborated.

The Israeli government’s claims that the Gaza flotilla had links to al Qaeda and Hamas stem largely from the involvement of IHH, a Turkey-based Islamic charity organization that operates in many countries in the Muslim world.

Israel has accused the group of having links to terrorist organizations, and the group has been banned in Israel since 2008. The US does not list IHH as a terrorist organization.

The Independent‘s Stewart suggests that a recent autopsy report — showing that the flotilla members killed in the raid were shot repeatedly and at close range — strengthens the argument that they may have been targeted for assassination.

An autopsy report from the Turkish council of forensic medicine, obtained by the UK’s Guardian Friday, showed that the nine dead had been shot a total of 30 times, “many fired at close range.”

According to the autopsy report, US citizen Fulkan Dogan was shot five times from less than three feet away. Dogan, a 19-year-old native of Troy, NY, was a dual US and Turkish citizen who was living in Turkey at the time of his death.

Another person killed in the raid was a “journalist taking photos,” the Independent reports, quoting passenger Hassan Ghani, who said the person “was shot … between the eyebrows, which indicates that it was not an attack that took place from self-defense.”

DEMOCRATIC HOUSE REP: JAIL US CITIZENS WHO WERE PART OF FLOTILLA

A Democratic member of the US House of Representatives says he wants to see US citizens aboard the Gaza flotilla prosecuted for providing aid to terrorists.

In a conference call organized by The Israel Project, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told reporters that activists participating in the flotilla were aiding Hamas and therefore breaking US law.

“The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 makes it absolutely illegal for any American to give food, money, school supplies, paper clips, concrete or weapons to Hamas or any of its officials,” Sherman said, as quoted at Jim Lobe’s foreign policy blog. “And so I will be asking the Attorney General to prosecute any American involved in what was clearly an effort to give items of value to a terrorist organization.”

TalkingPointsMemo’s M.J. Rosenberg, a frequent writer on Middle East issues, describes Sherman as “the most pro-Likud Democratic member of Congress,” referring to Israel’s most prominent conservative political party. “But this is crazy even for Sherman.”

Sherman’s declaration has taken heat from conservative commentators as well. Writing at The American Conservative, Kelley Vlahos declares that “the overall reaction to the abuse of our citizens has been strangely muted and flaccid — whether at the White House, Capitol Hill or in the corporate media.”

Writes Vlahos: “Instead of demanding an accounting — you know, like Turkey is doing for its own citizens — we have elected leaders trying to put Americans on that flotilla in jail.”

 
 
 
 
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