The Gaza Flotilla Incident – Michael Danby

June 5, 2010 by J-Wire
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Federal Labour MP Michael Danby’s informed update on the Gaza Flotilla Affair.

Michael Danby

Due to the poor coverage of the flotilla fracas by the mass media particularly the scandalously biased front pages of the Melbourne Age, I am writing to you outlining some of my comments and actions attempting to inject some balance in this latest hysteria.

Firstly, let me focus on the Australian Government’s policy

I hope it is clear that Australia is supporting an independent Israeli inquiry into the flotilla fracas. Australia does not support another UN Goldstone ambush. The Foreign Minister and Prime Minister’s words condemned all violence and these two policies are appreciated by the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in his phone conversation with Kevin Rudd on Wednesday. Australia’s policies are considered more friendly than other Governments by the Israelis.

Furthermore, Australia supports humanitarian assistance to Gaza but has not called for the end of a military blockade preventing shipments of Iranian or other armaments ( ala the Karine A incident see attachment 1, also see attachment 2 on the Francop shipment stopped in the Mediterranean )


These views were outlined by  Prime Minister Rudd’s comments on Israel in Question Time (Wednesday 1st of June). Click here

On Tuesday, I met with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to discuss a number of measures that would establish clearly Australia’s on going partnership with Israel. So  a group of senior Australian Jewish leaders including Robert Goot (EIJAC), Albert Dadon (AICE), Mark Leibler (AIJAC) and Philip Chester (ZF) attended with myself and Mark Dreyfus a meeting at the Lodge with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. A number of other positive suggestions were made and will be revealed in time.

Undoubtedly the serious position of the Australia Government were not reported in the AJN. Further my other comments to the AJN were severely abridged and I enclose them in full:

‘I condemn the failure of the Turkish-Islamist association IHH to use the peaceful means of distributing their aid via Ashdod or Egypt. It is astonishing that virtually none of the news media organisations seem to know that 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid is ferried across the check points from Israel to Gaza every week.’

‘Kerry O’Brien’s ABC’s 7.30 Report interview with Israeli Spokesman Yigal Plamor was unprofessional and hysterical, particularly given O’Brien’s lack of knowledge of the events which had just occurred. They were a marked contrast to the professional and balanced interview by Leigh Sales  with Mark Regev on Lateline that same night.’

On Irish citizen Paul McGeough, former SMH editor and now senior writer, who (with Fairfax photographer Kate Geraghty) joined the flotilla which was trying to breach the blockade of Iranian sourced arms previously ferried to Gaza…

‘I realise Mr Paul McGeough’s current career is based on the thesis of his book, ‘Kill Khaled’, that Hamas and Kahled Meshaal are moderate and the Western world and Israel should negotiate with it. His decision to go into detention rather than be deported is very strange.’

Thirdly, I wrote the editor of Age a private letter.

‘I am surprised that your Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis has not reported facts as reported by Ron Ben-Yishai.

I would have thought this editorial in the Washington Post (B) , was more balanced and note the anti-Israel propagandist responsible for the deliberately mixed (concocted) images on the front page today. By minimising the night vision pictures of the Israeli sailors being beaten and juxtaposing with a much bigger colour picture of the Greek police beating demonstrators. most Age readers will conflate the image. This would have had the effect of emotionally neutralising the two images from the Youtube footage of the Israeli soldiers being beaten and stabbed as they landed (attachment A). If they had seen only the night vision pictures unadulterated they would have had the opportunity to see what is counter intuitive to the drum-beat of media hatred of the Jewish State.

Special Report: A Brutal Ambush at Sea – Ron Ben-Yishai.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests. One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandos 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.
The Navy commandos 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.

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 consciousness. Only after this injury did troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralised them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back. “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.”

Read the rest of the article a this link.,7340,L-3896796,00.html


4 Responses to “The Gaza Flotilla Incident – Michael Danby”
  1. Ben Tzur says:

    I congratulate Michael Danby for his forthright and measured defense of Jewish interests. We need more like him in Federal politics. Despite his party affiliation, however, it is obvious that the Liberal Party is the more reliable friend of the Jewish community and of Israel. The Labor Party under Rudd has shown a rather queasy oscillation between support and trendy-left distancing from Israel, e.g., in regard to the passports affair, votes at the U.N., and the like.

  2. Daniel Kaye says:

    To answer your comments, blatant lies as it is absoloutly legal and right what Israel did, please, all objective openminded people and readers, read this:

    Statement by PM Netanyahu


    Photo by GPO

    “No Love Boat”

    Once again, Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment. I’m afraid this isn’t the first time.

    Last year, Israel acted to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets into Israel’s towns and cities. Hamas was firing on our civilians while hiding behind civilians. And Israel went to unprecedented lengths to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. Yet it was Israel, and not Hamas, that was accused by the UN of war crimes.

    Now regrettably, the same thing appears to be happening now.

    But here are the facts. Hamas is smuggling thousands of Iranian rockets, missiles and other weaponry – smuggling it into Gaza in order to fire on Israel’s cities. These missiles can reach Ashdod and Beer Sheva – these are major Israeli cities. And I regret to say that some of them can reach now Tel Aviv, and very soon, the outskirts of Jerusalem. From the information we have, the planned shipments include weapons that can reach farther, even farther and deeper into Israel.

    Under international law, and under common sense and common decency, Israel has every right to interdict this weaponry and to inspect the ships that might be transporting them.

    This is not a theoretical challenge or a theoretical threat. We have already interdicted vessels bound for Hezbollah, and for Hamas from Iran, containing hundreds of tons of weapons. In one ship, the Francop, we found hundreds of tons of war materiel and weapons destined for Hezbollah. In another celebrated case, the Karine A, dozens of tons of weapons were destined for Hamas by Iran via a shipment to Gaza. Israel simply cannot permit the free flow of weapons and war materials to Hamas from the sea.

    I will go further than that. Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem. And I would go beyond that too. I say to the responsible leaders of all the nations: The international community cannot afford an Iranian port in the Mediterranean. Fifteen years ago I cautioned about an Iranian development that has come to pass – people now recognize that danger. Today I warn of this impending willingness to enable Iran to establish a naval port right next to Israel, right next to Europe. The same countries that are criticizing us today should know that they will be targeted tomorrow.

    For this and for many other reasons, we have a right to inspect cargo heading into Gaza.

    And here’s our policy. It’s very simple: Humanitarian and other goods can go in and weapons and war materiel cannot.
    And we do let civilian goods into Gaza. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Each week, an average of ten thousand tons of goods enter Gaza. There’s no shortage of food. There’s no shortage of medicine. There’s no shortage of other goods.

    On this occasion too, we made several offers – offers to deliver the goods on board the flotilla to Gaza after a security inspection. Egypt made similar offers. And these offers were rejected time and again.

    So our naval personnel had no choice but to board these vessels. Now, on five of the vessels, our seamen were not met by any serious violence and as a result, there were no serious injuries aboard those ships. But on the largest ship, something very different happened.

    Our naval personnel, just as they landed on the ship – you can see this in the videos – the first soldier – they were met with a vicious mob. They were stabbed, they were clubbed, they were fired upon. I talked to some of these soldiers. One was shot in the stomach, one was shot in the knee. They were going to be killed and they had to act in self-defense.

    It is very clear to us that the attackers had prepared their violent action in advance. They were members of an extremist group that has supported international terrorist organizations and today support the terrorist organization called Hamas. They brought with them in advance knives, steel rods, other weapons. They chanted battle cries against the Jews. You can hear this on the tapes that have been released.

    This was not a love boat. This was a hate boat. These weren’t pacifists. These weren’t peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.

    I think that the evidence that the lives of the Israeli seamen were in danger is crystal clear. If you’re a fair-minded observer and you look at those videos, you know this simple truth. But I regret to say that for many in the international community, no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty.

    Once again, Israel is told that it has a right to defend itself but is condemned every time it exercises that right. Now you know that a right that you cannot exercise is meaningless. And you know that the way we exercise it – under these conditions of duress, under the rocketing of our cities, under the impending killing of our soldiers – you know that we exercise it in a way that is commensurate with any international standard. I have spoken to leading leaders of the world, and I say the same thing today to the international community: What would you do? How would you stop thousands of rockets that are destined to attack your cities, your civilians, your children? How would your soldiers behave under similar circumstances? I think in your hearts, you all know the truth.

    Israel regrets the loss of life. But we will never apologize for defending ourselves. Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory. And Israeli soldiers have every right to defend their lives and their country.

    This may sound like an impossible plea, or an impossible request, or an impossible demand, but I make it anyway: Israel should not be held to a double standard. The Jewish state has a right to defend itself just like any other state.

    Thank you.

  3. Marilyn Shepherd says:

    And Michael, when soldiers illegally attack a ship in international waters and are firing live rounds on them it is perfectly sensible that they should fight back.

    Honest to god you shills for Israel are absurd.

  4. Marilyn Shepherd says:

    Michael, you are an Australian, you are supposed to be a bit more objective than this. Soldiers with paintball guns don’t manage to murder 9 civilians with 5 of them shot in the back of the head and the back.

    Blockading Gaza is monstrous and the idea of “aid’ while supporting the illegal blockade is monstrous.

    Judging by the reports from all over the world McGeough was very measured in his reportage. How would you like to read about the 64 year old American man tortured for 2 days and denied care for his diabetes.

    You need to take you blinkers off.

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