The Guardian’s coverage of the incident which occurred on May 31st 2010 on board the Mavi Marmara – an organized effort by the Islamist organisation known as the IHH to break Israel’s blockade against weapons smuggling into Gaza – was characteristically obsessive and one-sided.
It included 71 separate pieces (reports and commentary placed on their special Gaza Flotilla page) published on the first four days following the incident and represented a quintessentially Guardian frantic rush to judgement: Israel was guilty of naked aggression against peaceful pro-Palestinian activists.
Perhaps the most surreal Guardian piece in the days after the incident was the following report, which uncritically reported the sage advice of the sensitive Syrian despot known as Bashar al-Assad meditating upon his vision for peace in the region – harmony he believed was complicated by events on the Mavi Marmara. (Assad, of course, was correct. Over 13,000 Syrian civilians murdered by the regime in Damascus can attest to this fact.)
Moreover, the long-awaited UN Palmer Report - published in July 2011 – reached conclusions almost completely at odds with the Guardian narrative. Here are some of the main points of the report:
- Contrary to a mind-numbing number of accusations in the media that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was “illegal” the Palmer report concluded that the Naval blockade is fully consistent with international law and that IDF Naval forces have the right to stop Gaza-bound ships in international waters.
- Contrary to claims that the IDF attacked peaceful activists, the reports concluded that when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force in order to ensure their own protection.
- The report concluded that the IHH sponsored flotilla, including the Mavi Marmara, “acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade.”
However, the Guardian’s Conal Urquhart – in the great tradition of Guardian pro-Palestinian activists – filed the following story unburdened by such quaint journalistic notions as adjusting a long-held narrative based on new information.
In fact, “Israel offers compensation to Mavi Marmara flotilla raid victims” of May 24th 2012, contains one passage completely contradicted by the Palmer Report.
According to Urquhart:
“Turkey cooled diplomatic relations with Israel after nine of its citizens were shot dead by Israeli commandos who landed on the Mavi Marmara to prevent its passage to Gaza. Protesters on the ship repelled the first wave of lightly armed commandos, but then the Israeli soldiers used lethal force against the unarmed passengers to end their resistance.”
This is blatantly untrue.
According to sections 123 and 124 of the Palmer Report:
“It is clear to the Panel that preparations were made by some of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara well in advance to violently resist any boarding attempt. The description given in the Israeli report is consistent with passenger testimonies to the Turkish investigation that describe cutting iron bars from the guard rails of the ship…”
“Furthermore, video footage shows passengers…carrying metal bars, slingshots, chains and staves. That information supports the accounts of violence given by IDF personnel to the Israeli investigation…”
“The Panel accepts, therefore, that soldiers landing from the first helicopter faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they descended onto the Mavi Marmara. Material before the Panel confirms that this group was armed with iron bars, staves, chains, and slingshots, and there is some indication that they also used knives. Firearms were taken from IDF personnel and passengers disabled at least one by removing the ammunition from it. Two soldiers received gunshot wounds. There is some reason to believe that they may have been shot by passengers,”
It simply doesn’t get more clear than this.
A Guardian reporter tells his readers that passengers on that fateful day of May 31st were unarmed, peaceful activists – despite definitive evidence that they were armed Islamist terrorists.
I’d recommend Tweeting Mr. Urquhart (
@conalu) and asking him about this simply indefensible claim.