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National Prayer Network


By Rev. Ted Pike
23 Sep 10

The extensive and meticulous investigative report by the UN Human Rights Council on Israel’s May 31 raid on the Free Gaza flotilla was released yesterday. Interviewing 112 survivors (but forbidden by Israel from questioning any of its commandoes), the report devastates Israel’s claim of innocence—further damaging her international reputation. Here are selected passages from the UN's high-drama, fast moving account, beginning with attack on the Mavi Mamara and ending with abuse and humiliations of survivors before deportation from Israel.

(i) Initial attempt to board the Mavi Marmara from the sea

112. Israeli zodiac boats made a first attempt to board the Mavi Marmara from the sea
shortly before 0430 hours. Several zodiac boats approached the ship at the stern from both
the port and starboard sides. The approach was accompanied by the firing of non-lethal
weaponry onto the ship, including smoke and stun grenades, tear-gas and paintballs. Plastic
bullets may also have been used at this stage: however, despite some claims that live
ammunition was also fired from the zodiac boats, the Mission is not satisfied that this was
the case. The smoke and tear gas were not effective due to the strong sea breeze and later
due to the downdraft from helicopters.

113. The Israeli forces attempted to board the ship through attaching ladders to the hull.
Passengers engaged in efforts to repel the attempted boarding using the ship’s water hoses68
and the throwing of various items at the boats including chairs, sticks, a box of plates and
other objects that were readily to hand. This initial attempt to board the ship proved
unsuccessful. It is the view of the Mission that the Israeli forces should have re-evaluated
their plans when it became obvious that putting their soldiers on board the ship may lead to
civilian casualties.

(ii) Landing of soldiers from helicopters onto the Mavi Marmara

114. Just minutes after soldiers from the zodiac boats had made initial unsuccessful
attempts to board, the first helicopter approached the ship at approximately 0430 hours,
hovering above the top deck. At this point between 10 and 20 passengers were located in
the central area of the top deck, although this number increased as other passengers learned
of events on the top deck. The Israeli forces used smoke and stun grenades in an attempt to
clear an area for the landing of soldiers. The first rope that was let down from the helicopter
was taken by passengers and tied it to a part of the top deck and thereby rendered
ineffective for the purpose of soldiers’ descent. A second rope was then let down from the
helicopter and the first group of soldiers descended. The Mission does not find it plausible
that soldiers were holding their weapons and firing as they descended on the rope.
However, it has concluded that live ammunition was used from the helicopter onto the top
deck prior to the descent of the soldiers.

115. With the available evidence it is difficult to delineate the exact course of events on
the top deck between the time of the first soldier descending and the Israeli forces securing
control of the deck. A fight ensued between passengers and the first soldiers to descend
onto the top deck that resulted in at least two soldiers being pushed down onto the bridge
deck below, where they were involved in struggles with groups of passengers who
attempted to take their weapons. The equipment jacket of at least one soldier was removed
as he was pushed over the side of the deck. A number of weapons were taken from the
soldiers by passengers and thrown into the sea: one weapon, a 9mm pistol was unloaded by
a passenger, a former US Marine, in front of witnesses and then hidden in another part of
the ship in an attempt to retain evidence.

116. A number of the passengers on the top deck fought with the soldiers using their fists,
sticks, metal rods and knives. At least one of the soldiers was stabbed with a knife or other
sharp object. Witnesses informed the Mission that their objective was to subdue and disarm
the soldiers so that they could not harm anyone. The Mission is satisfied on the evidence
that at least two passengers on the bridge deck also used handheld catapults to propel small
projectiles at the helicopters. The Mission has found no evidence to suggest that any of the
passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship. Despite
requests, the Mission has not received any medical records or other substantiated
information from the Israeli authorities regarding any firearm injuries sustained by soldiers
participating in the raid. Doctors examined the three soldiers taken below decks and no
firearm injuries were noted. Further, the Mission finds that the Israeli accounts so
inconsistent and contradictory with regard to evidence of alleged firearms injuries to Israeli
soldiers that it has to reject it.

(iii) Deaths of nine passengers and wounding of at least 50 other passengers

117. During the operation to secure control of the top deck, the Israeli forces landed
soldiers from three helicopters over a fifteen-minute period. The Israeli forces used
paintballs, plastic bullets and live ammunition, fired by soldiers from the helicopter above
and soldiers who had landed on the top deck. The use of live ammunition during this period
resulted in fatal injuries to four passengers, and injuries to at least nineteen others,
fourteen with gunshot wounds. Escape points to the bridge deck from the top deck were
narrow and restricted and as such it was very difficult for passengers in this area to avoid
being hit by live rounds. At least one of those killed was using a video camera and not
involved in any of the fighting with the soldiers. The majority of gunshot wounds received
by passengers were to their upper torsos in the head, thorax, abdomen and back. Given the
relatively small number of passengers on the top deck during the incident, the Mission is
driven to the conclusion that the vast majority were in receipt of gunshot wounds.

118. Israeli soldiers continued shooting at passengers who had already been wounded,
with live ammunition, soft baton charges (beanbags) and plastic bullets. Forensic analysis
demonstrates that two of the passengers killed on the top deck received wounds compatible
with being shot at close range while lying on the ground: Furkan Doğan received a bullet in
the face and İbrahim Bilgen received a fatal wound from a soft baton round (beanbag) fired
at such close proximity to his head that parts such as wadding penetrated his skull entered
his brain. Furthermore, some of the wounded were subjected to further violence including
being hit with the butt of a weapon, being kicked in the head, chest and back and being
verbally abused. A number of the wounded passengers were handcuffed and then left
unattended for some time before being dragged to the front of the deck by their arms or

119. Once the Israeli forces had secured control of the top deck they undertook measures
to move down to the bridge deck below in order to take over the ship’s bridge and thus take
control of the ship. In relation to this operation, a series of shooting incidents occurred
centred on the portside doorway which gives access to the main stairwell on the bridge
deck. This door is near to the hatch and ladder, which allows access from the top deck to
the bridge deck.

120. Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition both from the top deck at passengers on the
bridge deck below and after they had moved down to the bridge deck. At least four
passengers were killed, and at least nine injured (five with firearms injuries) during this
phase. None of the four passengers who were killed, including a photographer who at the
time of being shot was engaged in taking photographs and was shot by an Israeli soldier
positioned on the top deck above, posed any threat to the Israeli forces. There was
considerable live fire from Israeli soldiers on the top deck and a number of passengers were
injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting other to do so.
Wounded passengers were brought into the ship through the stairwell and through the
ship’s bridge room and were helped downstairs where they could be given some form of
medical treatment by doctors and others on board.

121. One witness described the circumstances in which one passenger was killed on the
bridge deck:
I saw two soldiers on top of the roof standing there holding their guns down at
something on the roof that I couldn’t see. There were two guys hidden underneath a
walkway of the ship to the right hand side and I was screaming at them not to move.
The two passengers were below the soldiers. They could not see the soldiers and the
soldiers could not see them while they were hidden under the walkway. Then the
guys moved out making themselves visible as they tried to run towards the metal
door. One man made it to open the door and got inside. The other man must have
been shot. I think he was shot in the head from the way he looked, he wasn’t moving
at all. He was twenty or thirty meters away from me. When the second man got shot,
the first man opened the door and using it as a shield tried to reach out for the
second man. He managed to reach him and was pulling him by his right arm. I
couldn’t see any blood, but he wasn’t moving at all.

122. A group of up to twenty passengers, some holding sticks and rods and wearing gas
masks, were located on or around the stairwell inside the ship. One passenger standing just
inside the door was shot through the broken porthole in the door by a soldier standing a few
metres away on the bridge deck outside.

123. During the shootings on the bridge deck and as it became apparent that a large
number of passengers had become injured, Bulent Yildirim, the President of IHH and one
of principal organizers of the flotilla, removed his white shirt which was then used as a
white flag to indicate a surrender. This does not appear to have had any effect and live
firing continued on the ship.

124. Israeli forces moved down to the bridge deck and moved rapidly to take over the
bridge room towards the front of the ship. The doorway and windows of the bridge room
came under fire and the ship’s captain ordered the ship’s engines to be cut. Israeli soldiers
entered the bridge room through the door and broken window. The crew were made to lie
on the ground at gunpoint. The captain remained standing but was held at gunpoint.

(iv) Shootings at the bow deck, the release of the Israeli soldiers and end of the operation

125. During the initial fighting on the top deck three Israeli soldiers were taken under
control and brought inside the ship. While some passengers wished to harm the soldiers,
other passengers ensured that they were protected and able to receive rudimentary medical
treatment from doctors on board. Two of the soldiers had received wounds to the abdomen.
One of the soldiers had a superficial wound to the abdomen, caused by a sharp object,
which penetrated to the subcutaneous tissue. None of the three soldiers had received
gunshot injuries, according to doctors who examined them. All three soldiers were in a state
of shock and were suffering from cuts, bruises and blunt force trauma.

126. As the seriousness of incidents on the outer decks became apparent, there was
growing concern among some of the flotilla organizers that holding the captured Israeli
soldiers may have serious implications for the security of all passengers on board. It was
decided that the soldiers should be released and they were taken to the bow of the lower
deck. Once on the bow deck two of the soldiers jumped into the sea and were picked up by
Israeli boats. The third soldier did not jump and was rapidly joined by Israeli soldiers who
came down from the top deck.

127. At least four passengers were injured on the bow of the ship, both before and around
the time that the Israeli soldiers were released. At least two passengers received wounds
from live ammunition, while others received injuries from soft baton charges, including one
doctor who was tending to injured passengers.

128. The Israeli forces stated that the active phase of the Israeli forces operation
concluded at 0517 hours, once the ship was under their control and the three soldiers were
released. During the 45-50 minute operation, nine passengers were killed, more than 24
passengers had received serious injuries caused by live ammunition and a large number of
other passengers had received injuries caused by plastic rounds, soft baton charges (beanbags)
and other means.

Deaths occurring on the Top Deck (roof)

Furkan Doğan
Furkan Doğan, a nineteen-year old with dual Turkish and United States citizenship, was on
the central area of the top deck filming with a small video camera when he was first hit
with live fire. It appears that he was lying on the deck in a conscious, or semi-conscious,
state for some time. It total Furkan received five bullet wounds, to the face, head, back
thorax, left leg and foot. All of the entry wounds were on the back of his body, except for
the face wound which entered to the right of his nose. According to forensic analysis,
tattooing around the wound in his face indicates that the shot was delivered at point blank
range. Furthermore, the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital
abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible
with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back. The other
wounds were not the result of firing in contact, near contact or close range, but it is not
otherwise possible to determine the exact firing range. The wounds to the leg and foot were
most likely received in a standing position.

İbrahim Bilgen
İbrahim Bilgen, a 60 year old Turkish citizen, from Siirt in Turkey, was on the top deck and
was one of the first passengers to be shot. He received a bullet wound to the chest, the
trajectory of which was from above and not at close range. He had a further two bullet
wounds to the right side of the back and right buttock, both back to front. These wounds
would not have caused instant death, but he would have bled to death within a short time
without medical attention. Forensic evidence shows that he was shot in the side of the head
with a soft baton round at such close proximity and that an entire bean bag and its wadding
penetrated the skull and lodged in the brain. He had a further bruise on the right flank
consistent with another beanbag wound. The wounds are consistent with the deceased
initially being shot from soldiers on board the helicopter above and receiving a further
wound to the head while lying on the ground, already wounded.

Fahri Yaldiz
Fahri Yaldiz, a 42 year old Turkish citizen from Adiyaman, received five bullet wounds,
one to the chest, one to the left leg and three to the right leg. The chest wound was caused
by a bullet that entered near the left nipple and hit the heart and lungs before exiting from
the shoulder. This injury would have caused rapid death.

Ali Heyder Bengi
According to the pathology report, Ali Heyder Bengi, a 38 year old Turkish citizen from
Diyarbakir, received six bullet wounds (one in the chest, one in the abdomen, one in the
right arm, one in the right thigh and two in the left hand). One bullet lodged in the chest
area. None of the wounds would have been instantly fatal, but damage to the liver caused
bleeding which would have been fatal if not stemmed. There are several witness accounts
which suggest that Israeli soldiers shot the deceased in the back and chest at close range
while he was lying on the deck as a consequence of initial bullet wounds.
Deaths occurring on the Bridge Deck, portside

Cevdet Kiliçlar
Cevdet Kiliçlar, a 38 year old Turkish citizen from Istanbul, was on the Mavi Marmara, in
his capacity as a photographer employed by IHH. At the moment he was shot he was
standing on the bridge deck on the port side of the ship near to the door leading to the main
stairwell and was attempting to photograph Israeli soldiers on the top deck. According to
the pathology reports, he received a single bullet to his forehead between the eyes. The
bullet followed a horizontal trajectory which crossed the middle of the brain from front to
back. He would have died instantly.

Cengiz Akyüz and Cengiz Songür
41 year old Cengiz Akyüz from Hatay and 46 year old Cengiz Songür from Izmir, both
Turkish citizens, were injured on the bridge deck in close succession by live fire from
above. They had been sheltering and were shot as they attempted to move inside the door
leading to the stairwell. Cengiz Akyüz received a shot to the head and it is probable that he
died instantly.
The pathology report shows four wounds: to the neck, face, chest and thigh. Cengiz Songür
received a single bullet to the upper central thorax below the neck, shot from a high angle,
which lodged in the right thoracic cavity injuring the heart and aorta. Unsuccessful efforts
were made by doctors inside the ship to resuscitate him through heart massage.

Çetin Topçuoğlu
Çetin Topçuoğlu, a 54 year old Turkish citizen from Adana had been involved in helping to
bring injured passengers inside the ship to be treated. He was also shot close to the door on
the bridge deck. He did not die instantly and his wife, who was also on board the ship,
was with him when he died. He was shot by three bullets. One bullet entered from the top the soft
tissues of the right side of the back of the head, exited from the neck and then re-entered
into the thorax. Another bullet entered the left buttock and lodged in the right pelvis. The
third entered the right groin and exited from the lower back. There are indications that the
victim may have been in a crouching or bending position when this wound was sustained.
Deaths and seriously wounded occurring in unknown locations

Necdet Yildirim
The location and circumstances of the shooting and death of Necdet Yildirim, a 31 year old
Turkish citizen from Istanbul, remain unclear. He was shot twice in the thorax, once from
the front and once from the back. The trajectory of both bullets was from top to bottom. He
also received bruises consistent with plastic bullet impact
Wounding of Uğur Suleyman Söylemez (in a coma)
The serious nature of wounds to Uğur Suleyman Söylemez, a 46 year old Turkish citizen
from Ankara, which include at least one bullet wound to the head, have left the victim in a
coma in an Ankara hospital. He remains in a critical condition with a serious head injury.

(v) Treatment of injured on the Mavi Marmara

129. Whilst the Israeli operation was still under way, efforts were made to tend to
wounded passengers inside the ship by other passengers, amongst whom were around 15
doctors, nurses and others with medical training, including an ophthalmologist and
orthopedic specialist. Prior to the attack the doctors had met and agreed to use the ship’s
small medical room, but there was no anticipated or preparation for the nature of injuries
that transpired. The limited medicines and lack of appropriate equipment made it very
difficult to properly treat wounded persons, particularly those who had received live fire
injuries and required immediate surgery. By the end of the Israeli operation more than thirty
persons were being treated inside the cabins, primarily in the lower deck in makeshift
surgery areas, twenty of whom were in a critical condition.

130. The flotilla organizers and other passengers engaged in efforts to request the Israeli
forces to provide the necessary treatment to the wounded persons. One organiser used the
ship’s intercom to request assistance in Hebrew and persons also communicated directly
through the cabin windows or by placing signs, written in English and Hebrew, in the
ship’s windows. These attempts proved unsuccessful and it was up to two hours before the
Israeli forces took out the wounded persons. However, the wounded were required to leave
the cabins themselves, or taken outside in a rough manner, without apparent concern for the
nature of their injuries and the discomfort that this would cause.

131. The wounded passengers were taken to the front of the top deck where they joined
other passengers injured during the operation on the top deck and where the bodies of
persons killed during the operation had been left. Wounded passengers, including persons
seriously injured with live fire wounds, were handcuffed with plastic cord handcuffs, which
were often tied very tightly causing some of the injured to lose sensitivity in their hands.
These plastic handcuffs cannot be loosened without being cut off, but can be tightened.
Many were also stripped naked and then had to wait some time, possibly as long as two three
hours, before receiving medical treatment. Medical treatment was given to a number
of wounded persons on the top deck by the Israeli forces.

132. Over several hours the wounded passengers were then airlifted by Israeli forces
helicopters from the ship to hospitals in Israel. However, some of the wounded remained
on board the Mavi Marmara, at least one of whom had injuries caused by live ammunition
and did not receive appropriate medical treatment until after the ship’s arrival at the port of
Ashdod in Israel many hours later.

(vi) Search and initial detention of Mavi Marmara passengers

133. All other passengers on the Mavi Marmara were taken one-by-one from the cabin
areas and onto the external deck areas and were searched. The vast majority of passengers,
including the ship’s captain and crew, were then handcuffed with plastic handcuffs and
forced to kneel on the various decks for some hours. Some women, elderly men and
persons from western countries were not handcuffed, or were temporarily handcuffed and
then uncuffed after a relatively short period of time and were then permitted to sit on the
benches. Most of those kneeling were drenched by water from the blades of the helicopter
and were thus also in wet clothing throughout this period and were very cold. Other
passengers exposed on open decks received serious sun-burn to their skin as a result of
many hours exposure: medical reports show that at least thirteen passengers received first degree
burns as a consequence. During the course of the twelve-hour journey to the port of
Ashdod in Israel the passengers were brought inside the ship and allowed to sit on the
available seating.

134. In the process of being detained, or while kneeling on the outer decks for several
hours, there was physical abuse of passengers by the Israeli forces, including kicking and
punching and being hit with the butts of rifles. One foreign correspondent, on board in his
professional capacity, was thrown on the ground and kicked and beaten before being
handcuffed. The passengers were not allowed to speak or to move and there were frequent
instances of verbal abuse, including derogatory sexual remarks about the female
passengers. Passengers were denied access to toilet facilities or made to wait for lengthy
periods before being escorted to the toilet and then forced to use the toilet with Israeli
soldiers watching and while handcuffed. Some passengers were in serious discomfort as a
result, while others used makeshift receptacles, such as plastic bottles and others still were
forced to urinate on themselves. The Israeli forces also employed dogs and some
passengers received dog bite wounds. Some witnesses who suffer from chronic medical
conditions, such as diabetes or heart conditions, were not provided access to their required
medicines which were taken by Israeli soldiers.

135. The manner in which plastic handcuffs were attached to the wrists of passengers
caused severe pain and discomfort. There was widespread misuse of the handcuffs by the
Israeli soldiers who tightened the plastic handcuffs to an extent that caused pain, swelling, a
loss of blood circulation in the hands and the loss of sensitivity in their hands and fingers.
Most passengers who requested that the handcuffs be loosened were ignored or it resulted
in the handcuffs being further tightened. A number of passengers are still experiencing
medical problems related to the handcuffing three months later and forensic reports confirm
that at least fifty-four passengers had received injuries, transversal abrasions and bruises, as
a result of handcuffing on board the Mavi Mamara.

(c) Events aboard the Challenger 1

136. Passengers and crew on the Challenger 1, the smallest and fastest vessel in the
flotilla, were able to witness the first moments of the assault on the Mavi Marmara. Once it
became apparent that the Israelis intended to commandeer the ships, the decision was made
for the Challenger 1 to accelerate out of the formation of the flotilla to allow more time for
the journalists aboard to transmit news of the assault to the outside world via the boat’s
satellite internet connection which remained in operation, but also in the hope that at least
one boat might still be able to reach Gaza. The boat was chased by one of the Israeli
corvette boats which it was unable to outrun. Eventually the starboard engine lost oil
pressure and the captain, concerned the Israelis might ram the boat, shut down the engines.

137. The boat was intercepted by two Israeli boats and a helicopter. Passengers on the
board said that at least one stun grenade was launched at the boat by the Israelis before they
attempted to board. Passengers on the decks had decided in advance to employ passive
resistance techniques to resist symbolically the Israeli soldiers boarding the boat. The
passengers stood unarmed side-by-side blocking the path of the soldiers. Soldiers opened
fire with paintballs and rubber bullets as they boarded, hitting and injuring one woman in
the face with either a plastic bullet or a paintball. Another woman was bruised on her back
by from rubber bullets.

138. Once on board, the soldiers moved to take control of the fly bridge. Passengers
obstructing access were forcibly removed. On entering the fly bridge, the soldiers were met
with no resistance, but a female journalist sustained burns on her arms from an electroshock
weapon fired by an Israeli soldier. Witnesses said that the primary concern of the soldiers
seemed to be the confiscation of photographic equipment and media.

139. The passive resistance offered by the passengers was met with force. One woman’s
head was hit against the deck of the boat and then stepped on by an Israeli soldier.
Passengers were handcuffed very tightly with plastic ties behind their backs, while the
woman injured in the face was left unattended.

140. Several passengers said that it was clear that the Israeli soldiers knew who was
onboard as they referred to some passengers by name. A plasticized booklet recovered from
a soldier on the Mavi Marmara and filmed identified specific passengers on several boats
with names and photographs including the Challenger 1.

141. One crew member observed that the soldiers were very young, seemed frightened
and that were initially poorly organized. Soldiers behaved aggressively from the outset
towards the passengers. Passengers were handcuffed with plastic ties and denied access to
the toilet. One elderly man was obliged to urinate in his clothes because he was refused
access to the toilet. There was an attempt to forcibly eject one woman from the boat into
one of the zodiacs. Two women had hemp bags placed over their heads for an extended
period. The woman injured in the face in the initial stage of boarding was left unattended
for an extended period, even though there was an army medic on board. The physical
violence was described as “unwarranted and excessive”. No distinction was made between
activists and journalists, despite the presence of several well-respected international
journalists on board.

142. The boat arrived in Ashdod at around 1100 hours on 31 May. Several passengers
joined arms to resist disembarkation, protesting that they had been brought to Israel against
their will from international waters. Two female passengers were handcuffed and forcibly
removed while a male passenger was threatened with an electroshock weapon at point
blank range. Passengers were led off the boat one-by-one accompanied by two Israeli

(d) Events aboard the Sfendoni

143. The operation to board the Svendoni took place simultaneously with the assault on
the Mavi Marmara. Soldiers were able to climb directly on board in a straightforward
manner from zodiac boats without the need to use grappling irons or other equipment. Prior
to boarding a number of stun grenades, plastic bullets and paint balls were fired at the boat
from soldiers on the zodiacs: at least two passengers were hit, one on the back of the head.
According to a medical doctor on board, one of stun grenades landed in the confined space
of the bridge, injuring a number of people and causing damage to the hearing of one man.

144. Once aboard, the soldiers proceeded to the bridge of the ship. The passengers had
planned to sit down on the decks of the boat to show passive resistance, but in the event the
plan was only partially implemented. Many of the passengers, including the elderly, stayed
below decks in the main lounge. On deck, passengers linked arms around the bridge. The
Israelis then proceeded to fire electroshock weapons at the protesting passengers to clear
access; a medical doctor, who was himself hurt in this way, later treated numerous
electrical burn injuries to passengers. When two Israeli soldiers entered the bridge, one of
the crew grabbed the wheel tightly, protesting that the boat was in international waters. A
soldier hit him with the butt of his gun and in the ensuing scuffle the captain was kicked in
the back, punched several times in the face and received electric shock burns from an
electroshock weapon.

145. At one point after the boat was taken under control one passenger was roughly
treated and restrained at the hands and feet with plastic ties. He screamed in protest and
because the ties were too tight. At the insistence of a medical doctor, the handcuffs were
removed. The man then ran and jumped into the sea. The passenger was later picked up by
another boat.

146. The Israeli forces took control of the boat and the passengers were made to sit down.
Some passengers were restrained with plastic ties for an initial period, but most were not.
The soldiers attempted to stop a medical doctor from treating the passengers’ injuries,
saying that the army medical officer on board would treat them. But since he was masked
and armed like the other soldiers, no passengers would consent to be treated by him. The
doctor said that they would have to shoot him to prevent him doing his job.

147. Passengers were searched one-by-one and taken to the main salon. Passengers said
that access to water and to the toilet was only possibly with difficulty after repeated
requests and not all passengers were granted access. Passengers were allowed to prepare
food which they refused to eat until an army cameraman ceased filming them for
propaganda reasons. Witnesses said that the soldiers were always aggressive and shouting
and pointing their guns, but otherwise no one was ill-treated or restrained.

(e) Events aboard the Eleftheri Mesogios

148. Israeli forces boarded the Eleftheri Mesogios after 0430 hours, concurrently with the
assault on the Mavi Marmara and Sfendoni. Soldiers boarded from three zodiac boats, using
grappling irons and rope ladders to climb the sides of the ship. Although barbed wire had
been placed around the ship, the soldiers were able to board relatively quickly.

149. The passengers did not engage in any pro-active resistance to the take-over of the
ship but used passive resistance methods, blocking access to the bridge with their bodies.
The Israeli forces used physical force, electroshock weapons, plastic bullets and paint balls
to clear the area. A number of passengers were injured, including one passenger whose leg
was fractured leg.

150. All the passengers and crew were handcuffed. Israeli soldiers confiscated their
passports and subjected them to body searches. Those who refused to cooperate were
roughly treated. According to a number of witnesses, some people who refused to surrender
their passports were assaulted, including one woman who was punched in the stomach and
one man who was wrestled to the ground by two soldiers, kicked and beaten. One passenger
said that the hand ties were too tight and when he asked for them to be loosened they were
instead tightened further.

151. Witnesses stated that the passengers were almost continuously filmed on video
cameras by the Israeli forces. One passenger said that he felt this was being done
deliberately to humiliate the passengers and that this contributed directly to an elderly
passenger experiencing an anxiety attack.

170. The circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner
consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution. Furkan Doğan and İbrahim
Bilgen were shot at near range while the victims were lying injured on the top deck. Cevdet
Kiliçlar, Cengiz Akyüz, Cengiz Songür and Çetin Topçuoğlu were shot on the bridge deck
while not participating in activities that represented a threat to any Israeli soldier. In these
instances and possibly other killings on the Mavi Marmara, Israeli forces carried out extralegal,
arbitrary and summary executions prohibited by international human rights law,
specifically article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

171. It is apparent that a number of the passengers on the top deck were subjected to
further mistreatment while lying injured. This included physical and verbal abuse some
time after the operation to secure control of the deck had concluded. Furthermore these
passengers were not provided with medical treatment for two to three hours after the
cessation of the operation. Similarly injured passengers who were inside the ship at the end
of the operation of the Israeli forces were denied proper medical treatment for a similar
length of time despite frequent efforts by other persons on board, including flotilla
organizers, requesting such assistance to be provided. Other passengers suffering from
chronic medical conditions were also denied access to their required essential medicines.
The Israeli forces failed to meet the requirement to provide proper medical treatment to all
those injured as rapidly as possible. Furthermore, the use of firearms should have been
preceded by clear warnings of the intent to do so. While the circumstances of the initial
stages on the top deck may not have been conducive to the issuance of such warnings, later
stages in the Israeli operation to secure control of the ship certainly were possible and

172. The Mission is satisfied that much of the force used by the Israeli soldiers on board
the Mavi Marmara and from the helicopters was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive
and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large
number of civilian passengers. On the basis of the forensic and firearm evidence, at least six
of the killings can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions. As
such, the conduct of the Israeli forces amounted to violations of the right to life and of the
right to physical integrity, as stipulated in articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights.

181. The Mission thus determines that the treatment of passengers on board the Mavi
Marmara and in certain instances on board the Challenger 1, Sfendoni and the Eleftheri
Mesogios, by the Israeli forces amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and,
insofar as the treatment was additionally applied as a form of punishment, torture. This
represents a violation of articles 7 and 10 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

(c) Possible violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international
humanitarian law

182. In addition to the international human rights violations set out above, the Mission
considers that the same factual circumstances provide prima facie evidence that protected
persons suffered violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israeli forces
during the interception, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment and willfully
causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health within the terms of article 147 of
the Fourth Geneva Convention.


C. Detention of flotilla passengers in Israel and deportation

1. Factual Description and Findings

183. The Mission found the following facts to have been established to its satisfaction.

(a) Processing of the passengers at the Port of Ashdod

184. All of the intercepted vessels in the flotilla were taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod
where a processing centre had been set up in advance in marquees on the quayside to
receive the passengers. The Challenger 1, the fastest vessel in the flotilla, arrived around
1100 hours on 31 May. The last ship to arrive was the Mavi Marmara at around 1800 hours
on the same day. As a result of the numbers of passengers to be processed, the
disembarkation process was extremely lengthy. Some passengers from the Mavi Marmara
said that they had to wait up to twelve hours inside the ship under armed guard after it had
arrived at the port and some did not disembark until the next morning.

185. The vessels were greeted by crowds of soldiers and sometimes civilians, including
school children, at the quayside, waving flags and cheering the return of the Israeli forces.
Some passengers said that they were jeered or taunted by the people on the quay. There
were also television camera crews and journalists recording the disembarkation of the
passengers. Many passengers said that they found the experience of being “paraded” before
the media and the sometimes hostile crowds unsettling and humiliating.

186. Injured passengers who had not been airlifted were diagnosed and sent to nearby
hospitals for treatment. Some passengers with serious injuries were made to walk off the
Mavi Marmara unaided. Due to the delay in disembarking and processing all passengers,
some injured passengers had to wait for considerable periods before they were diagnosed
and sent to hospital. Others were not diagnosed until they arrived at the prison later.

187. During processing, all passengers were presented with official papers to sign.
Various translations of the papers were in circulation, in English, Turkish and Arabic, but
most passengers said that they were given a version in Hebrew and that the contents were
not explained to them. According to those able to understand the papers, they stated that the
signatory admitted to having entered Israel illegally and consented to deportation and be
banned from re-entering Israel for a 10-year period. Some passengers were told that signing
the document would expedite early release from custody and repatriation whereas failure to
sign would result in a lengthy detention period pending court proceedings.

188. Almost all passengers refused to sign the document on the basis that they had been
brought to Israel from international waters against their will or because they did not want to
sign a document that they did not understand. There were concerted efforts by some Israeli
officers to coerce passengers into signing the forms. Some passengers did sign under duress
having annotated the text to reflect the circumstances of their entry into Israel or stating that
it was signed “under protest”. Some passengers were threatened with physical violence for
refusing to sign; others were beaten or physically abused for refusing to sign or for advising
others not to sign. Efforts to persuade passengers to sign the forms continued at the airport
almost up to the moment of departure.

189. Passengers were subjected to a series of meticulous searches, including strip
searches. Although female officers generally searched the women, some complained that
they were searched in full or partial view of male officers. Some male passengers said that
they were subjected to or threatened with internal cavity searches. A number of passengers
described the process of being searched as being deliberately degrading and humiliating,
accompanied by taunts, provocative and insulting language and physical abuse. During the
course of their detention in Israel, many passengers were searched multiple times, long after
such searches could serve a useful security purpose.

190. During processing, passengers were photographed either for official documentation
or, in some cases, for “trophy pictures”. The processing of some passengers was also
videotaped. Passengers had their fingerprints and in some cases DNA swabs, were taken.
Whilst some successfully declined to submit to fingerprinting, some had their prints taken
by force. A victim and witnesses provided a vivid description of the circumstances in which
one passenger, a Greek national, was severely beaten for refusing to provide his fingerprints
to the Israeli authorities. The passenger was dragged along the ground for some distance
and then surrounded by a large group of Israeli officials who proceeded to beat him
severely, including the deliberate fracture of his leg. His cries for help were ignored, and
one witness noted uniformed officials, both male and female, laughing at him. The
passenger’s broken leg was not treated until after he had left Israel.

191. Passengers were also given a medical check, although some were able to and did
refuse. Many passengers considered the medical checks to be cursory and pro forma. The
medication of some passengers who were following special medical prescriptions for
existing conditions had been confiscated by soldiers or left behind on the vessels. Requests
for these medications to be returned were not met promptly although some people did
receive their medication later after repeated requests.

192. In addition to the examples described above, there were other incidents of physical
violence being perpetrated against individual passengers deemed non-cooperative, which
resulted in physical injuries and trauma. One passenger, who made a general protest about
the way the passengers were being treated, was told by an Israeli officer: “You are in Israel
now; you have no rights”.

193. Passengers were not allowed access to a lawyer or to consular services during
processing at the port. Some passengers said that there were translators available in some
languages and some officials involved in the processing spoke languages other than
Hebrew. However, many passengers were unable to understand what was being said to

194. The wife of one of the deceased passengers was treated with complete insensitivity
to her bereavement. She was not allowed to make a phone call to inform her family of her
loss. There were examples of members of the same family who were separated and kept in
complete ignorance of the whereabouts and well-being of their relatives until repatriation.
This separation added to the distress and anxiety experienced by the passengers.

(b) Detention of passengers and crew at Ella prison near Beersheva

195. After processing at Ashdod, the majority of passengers were transferred in batches
to Ella Prison, near Beersheva, a one to two hour journey by road. Passengers were
transferred in regular prison vehicles with barred windows. Some passengers had to wait in
the vehicles for several hours. One passenger said that he spent twenty hours waiting in a
van both at Ashdod and at the prison. Many passengers complained that excessive airconditioning
made the vans very cold. Others complained that they were locked in the vans
with closed windows in the sun for long periods so that the atmosphere became suffocating.
Requests to adjust the temperature or to allow access to the toilet were either ignored or in
some cases resulted in threats of or actual violence.

196. On arrival at the prison, most passengers were placed in cells in groups of up to four
persons. A number of passengers reported that they were kept in isolation and did not meet
with other passengers until they left the prison.

197. Most witnesses reported that the conditions at the prison were acceptable, although
some complained that on arrival at the facility they had to clean the cells and the communal
areas. Some also stated that the toilets did not function properly and some, including
women, reported discomfort in using the showers due to the presence of surveillance
cameras. Passengers were generally provided with food and water. Many passengers
complained that they were prevented from sleeping in the prison due to regular roll-calls,
noise from the prison guards and other deliberate disturbances.

198. Many passengers were subjected to further interrogations while in detention; some
said that this was done repeatedly. There were a number of allegations of beatings during
these interrogations.

199. Most witnesses reported that they continued to be denied access to a lawyer and to
contact with their embassies. Lawyers from one Israeli legal aid NGO said that they made
repeated attempts to visit the detainees but were denied entry for some time. When they
were granted access, the lawyers had a very limited time with each detainee and could only
conduct cursory interviews. Some passengers received a visit from their embassy
representative but the majority had no such contact. Although there was some access to
telephones, telephone cards, when distributed, allowed very limited calling time making it
practically impossible to call abroad.

200. No foreign national detained at Beersheva was charged with any offence or brought
before a judge. One passenger was however taken, after he had protested his right to appear
before a judge, before what he considered to be a “sham court” close to the airport to have
his deportation confirmed.

(c) Ill-treatment of passengers at the airport and repatriation

201. Depending on their time of arrival, passengers were detained from between 24 and
72 hours. Jordanians and passengers from certain other countries with no diplomatic
relations with Israel were released early and transported back to Jordan by road. The
majority of passengers were taken from the prison to Ben Gurion International Airport in
Tel Aviv for repatriation by air. Many passengers complained that they had again to wait
for many hours in the sun inside prison vans both at the prison and on arrival at the airport
during the deportation phase. One woman, overcome by the oppressive conditions in her
vehicle said that she was refused access to a toilet despite making clear that she was

202. Perhaps the most shocking testimony, after that relating to the violence on the Mavi
Marmara, provided to the Mission was the consistent accounts of a number of incidents of
extreme and unprovoked violence perpetrated by uniformed Israeli personnel upon certain
passengers during the processing procedures inside the terminal at Ben Gurion International
Airport on the day of deportation. These accounts were so consistent and vivid as to be
beyond question. An intimidating number of armed soldiers and police were present inside
the terminal building. Some passengers said that these officers were “spoiling for a fight”.
All passengers had been subjected to multiple searches and were completely under the
control of the Israelis by this stage. Most passengers were continuing to refuse to sign
deportation documents and some were determined to make a point about the legality of the
process by insisting on a court hearing to confirm the deportation. None of the violence
described seems to have been justified.

203. Some passengers in the passport checking area saw an older passenger being
roughly treated after receiving what appeared to be a beating. When other passengers,
including Irish and Turkish, protested at this treatment, they were charged by soldiers using
batons. In the foray, around 30 passengers were beaten to the ground, kicked and punched
in a sustained attack by soldiers. One Irish passenger was seen being particularly badly
beaten around the head and held in a choke position to the point of near suffocation. He
identified his attackers as police officers. He was taken to a holding cell.

204. One Turkish passenger involved in the fight said that he was subsequently taken by
soldiers, handcuffed with metal cuffs, picked up by the cuffs, taken to a small room and
beaten and kicked by five more soldiers while others shielded the scene from outside. The
police intervened to stop the violence in this case.

205. A number of women were pushed around by soldiers, one of whom was beaten with
fists. They were also subjected to sexual taunts.

206. In a separate incident, a passenger was physically attacked by around seventeen
officers when he refused to sign deportation paper, kicked in the head and threatened at
gunpoint. A number of passengers had resolved to resist deportation in order to have the
opportunity to demonstrate their innocence in an Israeli court. This was taken as a
provocation by the Israelis.

207. One medical doctor gave a detailed account of his treatment. On arrival at the
airport, the officer accompanying him jostled him and tried to trip him up on the stairs. He
was then subjected to verbal insults as he passed through a check point. An officer slapped
him on the back of the head and when he protested he was set upon by a group of
uniformed officers, knocked to the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked. He was then
dragged out of sight of other passengers where the attacks resumed. Attempts were made to
break his fingers. He was restrained with metal handcuffs behind his back so tightly that he
lost feeling to one hand. He was then hoisted up by the cuffs and pushed against a wall.
When he asked for the cuffs to be loosened, he was told this was the price he had to pay for
attempting to go to Gaza and that “it would be good for his health”. The doctor was
wearing a jacket which clearly identified him as a medical doctor and said the attacks were
completely unprovoked.

208. There were other incidents of isolated violence against individual passengers who
were deemed to be uncooperative. One passenger was seen having his arm twisted behind
his back by police to the point that the arm broke. Another was kicked and hit by some ten
soldiers, handcuffed and taken by vehicle to another place 10-15 minutes away, where
soldiers abused him for up to two hours. When he returned to the airport, he was bleeding
from the head.

209. A large number of the military and police personnel at the airport exhibited serious
and unprofessional lapses of military discipline whilst commanding officers failed in most
cases to intervene promptly. Much of the behavior was surely criminal under domestic
Israeli law.

210. The majority of the passengers regardless of nationality were deported from Israel
aboard aircraft provided by the Turkish Government. The Jordanian detainees however
were deported by bus across the land border between Israel and Jordan. The Greek
passengers were airlifted back to Athens aboard a Greek military aircraft sent by the Greek
Government. At least one passenger with dual nationality including Israeli nationality
elected not to be deported in order not to jeopardize his Israeli citizenship. He was
threatened with prosecution but was released in Israel and later left the country without

211. Some passengers were made to wait for many hours on board the aircraft while the
deportation procedures for the other passengers were being completed. Some passengers
said that they boarded the plane in the morning but did not take off until after midnight.


(Click Here for official full length 56 page UN Human Rights Council Report.)


Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization. 

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