Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What really happened on the Gaza-bound ships -- in detail

By Ron Ben-Yishai

Our Navy commandoes fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
‘I saw the tip of a rifle’

The Navy commandoes were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.

The planned rush towards the vessel’s bridge became impossible, even when a second chopper was brought in with another crew of soldiers. “Throw stun grenades,” shouted Flotilla 13’s commander who monitored the operation. The Navy chief was not too far, on board a speedboat belonging to Flotilla 13, along with forces who attempted to climb into the back of the ship.

The forces hurled stun grenades, yet the rioters on the top deck, whose number swelled up to 30 by that time, kept on beating up about 30 commandoes who kept gliding their way one by one from the helicopter. At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.

Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes.

“I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him. We looked for him later but couldn’t find him.” Two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds to their knee and stomach after rioters apparently fired at them using guns wrested away from troops.

During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.

Some passengers on the ship stood at the back and pounded the soldiers’ hands as they attempted to climb on board. Only after a 30-minute shootout and brutal assaults using clubs and knifes did commandoes manage to reach the bridge and take over the Marmara.

It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.



Fancy restaurants and Olympic-size pools in Gaza

In recent days, the international media, particularly in Europe and the Mideast, has been full of stories about “activist boats sailing to Gaza carrying desperately-needed humanitarian aid and building materials.”

The BBC World Service even led its world news broadcasts with this story at one point over the weekend. (The BBC yesterday boasted that its global news audience has now risen to 220 million persons a week, making it by far the biggest news broadcaster in the world.)

Indeed the BBC and other prominent Western media regularly lead their viewers and readers astray with accounts of a non-existent “mass humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

What they won’t tell you about are the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip’s crowded shops and markets. Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live a middle class (and in some cases an upper class) lifestyle that western journalists refuse to report on because it doesn’t fit with the simplistic story they were sent to write.

Here, courtesy of the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, is a report on Gaza’s new Olympic-sized swimming pool . (Most Israeli towns don’t have Olympic-size swimming pools. One wonders how an area that claims to be starved of water and building materials and depends on humanitarian aid builds an Olympic size swimming pool and creates a luxury lifestyle for some while others are forced to live in abject poverty as political pawn refugees?)

If you pop into the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”.

The restaurant’s website in Arabic gives a window into middle class dining and the lifestyle of Hamas officials in Gaza. And here it is in English, for all the journalists, UN types and NGO staff who regularly frequent this and other nice Gaza restaurants (but don’t tell their readers about them).

And here is a promotional video of the club restaurant . In case anyone doubts the authenticity of this video, I just called the club in Gaza City and had a nice chat with the manager who proudly confirmed business is booming and many Palestinians and international guests are dining there.

In a piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, I documented the “after effects” of a previous “emergency Gaza boat flotilla,” when the arrivals were seen afterwards purchasing souvenirs in well-stocked shops. (You can also scroll down here for more pictures of Gaza’s “impoverished” shops.)

But the mainstream liberal international media won’t report on any of this. Playing the manipulative game of the BBC is easy: if we had their vast taxpayer funded resources, we too could produce reports about parts of London, Manchester and Glasgow and make it look as though there is a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the UK. We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles too.

Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. (When was the last time a foreign journalist based in Israel left the pampered lounge bars and restaurants of the King David and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and went to check out the slum-like areas of southern Tel Aviv? Or the hard-hit Negev towns of Netivot or Rahat?)

But the way that many prominent Western news media are deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state – which one suspects was the goal of many of the editors and reporters involved in the first place.



Offshore oil disaster a gift for Obama's "shrink America" aims

An administration never enthusiastic about offshore drilling is using the Gulf oil spill as an excuse to suspend Arctic exploration. Who could've seen that coming? Now we'll be more dependent on foreign oil.

Suspicions in some quarters that the administration was being deliberately lax in its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in order to pursue a larger, anti-domestic energy agenda were met with derision. But if not deliberate, the effect is the same as the administration prepares to shut down our search for new oil.

President Obama on Thursday announced a suspension of offshore drilling in the Arctic until the causes and solutions to the Gulf spill are found. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a report delivered to the White House on Thursday that he will not consider applications for permits to drill in the Arctic until 2011. Shell Oil was poised to begin exploratory drilling this summer on leases as far as 140 miles offshore.

The irony here is that it's been the reluctance of Congress and the White House to allow more onshore development of our vast untapped oil and natural gas energy reserves that has forced oil companies such as Shell and British Petroleum to go farther and farther offshore to drill deeper and deeper in riskier waters.

"I am frustrated that this decision by the Obama administration to halt offshore development for a year will cause more delays and higher costs for domestic oil and gas production to meet the nation's energy needs," Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a statement. As with nuclear power, domestic oil exploration will now be consigned to the "study forever, develop never" category.

As we noted recently, this is another energy crisis that environmentalists will not let go to waste. The nonfatal accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 and the Soviet disaster at Chernobyl conspired to deprive the U.S. of a non-polluting form of power generation — nuclear power. The danger here is that similar overblown fears of offshore oil production will doom the U.S. to being the Bangladesh of domestic energy production.

Other nations continue to build new nuclear power plants, build new coal plants and build new offshore oil rigs (including China, in the Gulf of Mexico). They know that despite the risks and dangers, their economies and their people need the energy. The U.S., uniquely among industrial nations, will stick its head in the tundra.




Had enough government yet?: "The BP Deepwater Horizon, the most federally regulated offshore oil drilling rig ever, blows out one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in the worst oil spill disaster ever. In the spirit of using every crisis to advance the liberal agenda, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposes to abolish the single agency in charge of regulating and inspecting offshore rigs, and replacing it with three new federal agencies. In fairness, Salazar had to do something drastic when it was discovered that the agency whose oversight failed to prevent the blowout was peppered with employees who spent their time doing drugs, taking bribes from the oil industry, and surfing the web for porn.”

Why some places suck and others don’t: "It’s hardly an original observation that some parts of the world suck mightily as places to be unfortunate enough to inhabit while others are, by historical or global standards, really rather decent. Various explanations for this have been offered over the years and the current fashionable one is that institutions matter. not just who is in power and what they want, but what restrictions does the society put upon exercise of power: is the law stable for example, are property rights respected, does getting ahead depend upon ingenuity, effort and improving the general lot or by sucking up to the nearest politician? Or, Lord forbid, mounting a coup to become the nearest politician?”

Tea Party vs. ACORN, etc.: "It looks like the way the Right despises ACORN, the Left does the Tea Party. It may not even be so much about their political stances, although that is part of it for sure. It is sad, though, that supporters of Mr. Obama had no problem with — indeed were proud of — his history of community organization but forget about this completely as they deride the Tea Party. And I am not just talking about Leftist talk show hosts and hostesses but snooty publications like The New Republic and The New York Review of Books. Instead of celebrating this clearly democratic phenomenon, the Left is demonizing it.”

Greedy British centre/Left politician: "Once an individual claims any kind of state subsidy, his privacy is forfeit: the humblest benefits recipient could confirm that. The one certain way to have preserved his privacy was for [David] Laws to have claimed no money — as he could easily have afforded to do. Laws is a multi-millionaire as a result of his previous career in banking: he was a vice-president of J P Morgan and then the managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd, before he was 30. That an MP with that kind of personal wealth elected to take more than £40,000 from the taxpayer says it all about politicians’ sense of entitlement. It was that sense of entitlement that brought him down. His private life was revealed by Laws himself, in a transparent attempt to claim victimhood. To some degree that ploy succeeded, as the Dianafication of the former Chief Secretary among his colleagues and some elements of the media over the past 24 hours testifies.”

Concierge medical services: "My wife and I have a great doctor. She has a small clinic nearby with a few other doctors, who are also all very good. Our doctor has a waiting list for people who want to be her patient. We have over the years recommended several people, even some who live 20 miles away, to her. She is very nagging — in a good way. She makes you promise to get a physical, eye exam, etc., intervenes to get you an appointment with a specialist if you need one, etc. Follows up by phone, and so on. She is great. She recently announced to us that she is moving to some kind of ‘concierge’ service — she figures she basically provides that kind of above-average service already, and this is a way to reduce her patient load (from about 4000 to about 400), and escape some of the regulatory burden that Obamacare is going to impose. So she’s picking a select group of her current patients — about 10% of them — and they will be allowed to remain her patients — for $1600/year each. Now, we love our doctor, so will probably do this. And 3600 of her patients will now lose their favorite doctor. Thanks, in part, to Obamacare.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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