Israeli piracy and murder: An act of self defence?

By Harsha Walia

As international outrage spreads at the Israeli elite commando attack on an unarmed humanitarian convey in the middle of the night on international waters, Israel is desperately trying to rebrand the incident as one of self-defence. It is nothing new for Israel, and other aggressing powers, to smear their victims as perpetrators. Afterall, unjustifiable murder is too jarring to stomach.

Yet, Amnesty International released a statement about Israel’s excessive use of force, further stating that Israel’s version of events begs credibility.  Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed the actions of Israel as “completely inexcusable”. According to Craig Murray, specialist on maritime law, “To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal.”

Deported activists tell a horrifying story of the use of electric shock, live ammunition, smoke bombs, gas canisters, beatings, and seizure of all evidence on cameras. Greek activist Michalis Grigoropoulos said, “They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads…There was absolutely nothing we could do.” A Turkish woman, with her 1 year old baby, recalls “The ship turned into a lake of blood.”

Israeli-Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, who was on board, demanded an international inquiry: “It was clear from size of force that boarded ship that purpose was not to stop sail, but to cause largest number of fatalities to prevent future initiatives.” In contradiction of the carefully managed public relations campaign, a top Israeli Navy commander brags to the Jerusalem Post that “We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war.” The names of the 10-19 dead, 60-80 injured, and hundreds detained have yet to be released.

Continue reading “Israeli piracy and murder: An act of self defence?”

Searching for Jake Sully in India’s Heartland

by Harsha Walia

Building traditional irrigation systems, practicing forest conservation and cooperative farming, and providing educational and medical facilities in the isolated rural forests of India. This could apply to any NGO or charity, but is actually the work of armed Naxalite Maoists. In addition to community development, Naxalites have organized politically to self-govern and have claimed responsibility for numerous killings of government officials, security personnel, and alleged informers. Today, many of the Naxal cadres are Adivasis (tribal indigenous) and 40% are women. Naxalites have been operating since the 1970s in 20 states around the jungles of Central and Eastern India.

Naxalites recently made headlines as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared them “the most serious internal threat to India’s national security” and unleashed Operation Green Hunt. Under Green Hunt 250,000 police, armed forces, and counter-insurgency teams have been deployed, while the US provides military intelligence and tactical guidance. The jungles are under a heavy siege: checkpoints, army patrols, helicopter missions, gunfire battles that kill 40 civilians per week. Based on the counterinsurgency model of soft power alongside military might (charity from the barrel of a gun), government-sponsored agencies are setting up rehabilitation camps for the 200,000 already-displaced villagers.

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