I know I promised not to write more about this, but it will not go away.
Speaking to CNN’s Larry King [last week], Obama said, “You’ve got loss of life that was unnecessary. So we are calling for an effective investigation of everything that happened. I think the Israelis are going to agree to that — an investigation of international standards — because they recognize that this can’t be good for Israel’s long-term security. — YNet
I don’t know what he means by ‘of international standards’, but I agree that there absolutely needs to be an investigation.
What needs to be investigated is the vicious attack on the boarding party: who financed and organized the perpetrators, how they got on the ship, and what their connection was to the Turkish regime.
1. An initial analysis of statements taken from passengers aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara after it was towed to the port of Ashdod show that operatives belonging to the radical Islamic Turkish IHH led the violent confrontation with the IDF.
2. The statements confirmed that the violence met by the IDF soldiers was not spontaneous but rather an organized, premeditated action carried out by a hard core of 40 IHH operatives (among the 500 passengers). The operatives, who acted according to a clearly-defined internal hierarchy, boarded the ship in the port of Istanbul without undergoing a security inspection (as opposed to the other passengers, who boarded in Antalya after a full inspection).
3. The IHH operatives’ preparations included handing out walkie-talkies as they boarded the ship, taking over the upper deck, setting up a situation room for communications, and a briefing given to the operatives two hours before the confrontation by IHH head Bülent Yildirim, who was on board the ship and commanded his men. IHH operatives wore ceramic vests and gas masks, and were armed with large quantities of cold weapons which they had prepared from equipment found on board (knives, axes, metal cables, metal pipes used as clubs, wrenches, etc.). They were also equipped with box cutters which had been prepared on the upper deck in advance.
4. The passengers, including the IHH operatives, stated that there were close relations between the organization and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan and that the Turkish government was involved in preparations for the flotilla. The statements reinforce the original assessment that the objective of the flotilla was not merely to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, but focused on provocation and a violent confrontation with Israel.
5. According to statements from the passengers, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan maintains close contacts with IHH. The flotilla set sail with the full knowledge and agreement of Erdoğan, who expressed personal interest in its success and his intention to exploit it promote his status in Turkey and the Arab-Muslim world. Passengers said that before the flotilla set sail, Prime Minister Erdoğan constructed a scenario based on a possible confrontation with Israel which he could use to further his own needs. The statements were supported by descriptions found in files on laptop computers belonging to the passengers.
There’s much more. I think that only a thorough, impartial international investigation can determine the facts. And if it is determined that elements of the Turkish regime were responsible or even knew about the plan in advance, they should be held to account — perhaps by the International Criminal Court.
But even this may not be the worst of it. Barry Rubin, who has excellent connections in Turkey, writes,
There is a widespread story, which cannot yet be verified but seems to be more than a rumor, for why this tragedy might have happened. People ask: Why did the Israeli soldiers land on a ship where they should have expected to be received with a violent attack?
According to some people who are in a position to know, here’s the reason: Erdoğan assured Israel that the ship’s passengers were peaceful and there would be no violence. That’s why Israel approached taking and diverting the ship in the manner it did.
Keep in mind that Erdoğan went into a full-bore diplomatic and propaganda attack immediately after the incident. If this report turns out to be true, then this affair will make its mark in the annals of diplomatic treachery.