Flotilla attack ‘a carefully planned action’

Tuesday, 01 Jun 2010 18:18:59 GMT
Jennifer Loewenstein, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, says Israel’s deadly attack on the Freedom Flotilla was a “very carefully planned action” subsidized by the United States.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying food and medical supplies to Gaza, came under fire early Monday morning by Israeli navy forces in international waters more than 150km off the coast of Gaza.

Twenty international activists are reported to have been killed and 50 others injured in the incident.

The following is the transcript of Press TV’s interview with Jennifer Loewenstein:

Press TV: The first question that comes to mind is that this incident happened in international waters and not exclusive territory. How can Israel justify that?

Loewenstein: Well, it can’t. It will go out of its way to twist the story and talk of how it was attacked…it sticks to whatever it can lie about and whatever people can buy. But the fact is that legally they have absolutely no defense. They violated international laws by attacking a non-violent humanitarian aid convoy to the Gaza Strip in international waters.

If either party had the right to confront the other, it was the Flotilla that would have had the right to confront the Israelis for doing this act of aggression against them.

People do not seem to be aware of the actual circumstances here in the United States and it is very frustrating because the amount of news coverage that we get on these stories is so limited and so twisted.

Press TV: How likely do you think that this incident was pre-planned? The attack being a sort of iron-fist policy to prevent future aid convoys from even thinking to set sail for Gaza?

Loewenstein: My own belief, which I can’t prove, is that this was very carefully planned. Not only were the Israeli soldiers instructed to go aboard these ships, as we heard in advance, I believe they were probably also told to kill anyone they felt symbolized a threat such as Sheikh Raed Salah. I do not know what his current condition is because of the Israeli-imposed media blackout from the ships and every other detail about this issue.

We cannot confirm anything but my belief is that we will find that this was in fact a very carefully planned action. It was done deliberately to get the activists off the backs of Israelis. They [Israelis] are obviously intimidated by the fact that they are bringing international attention to the blockade.

I do not agree with one of the commentators who said earlier that the sole purpose of the Flotilla was to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. I think it was very clear that the activists had another purpose — which was a very necessary and good purpose — and that was to call attention yet again to collective punishment of 1.5 million Gazans, who have been living under blockade for three years now… And when I say three years I kind of cringe because the condition in Gaza has been ongoing and terrible for over a decade.

Press TV: The United Nations has only condemned the incident. How would the UN have responded if the attack was carried out by any perpetrator other than Israel?

Loewenstein: I can imagine how the UN would respond. My feeling is that here the important party is not the UN, it is the US. I think most people understand that the UN is basically powerless as long as the US imposes what it wants. The US determines who is going to become secretary general more or less, and that somebody it does not approve of, will never become secretary general. And so you have a situation such as we did a year and a half ago when the Cast Lead Operation was taking place and Ban Ki-Moon gives Israel a slap on the wrist. This was what the Americans wanted and this was what we see today. This was what they have helped engineer. I don’t know how this is going to be played out in the long run. Meanwhile, the role of Turkey could have very dire implications for the US strategic policy in the Middle East. I hope it has implications in terms of forcing the US to stop its total subsidization of Israel.