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PORTSIDE  September 2010, Week 4

PORTSIDE September 2010, Week 4

Subject:

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis "Executed" US Citizen

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Mon, 27 Sep 2010 21:47:15 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (254 lines)

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis "Executed" US
Citizen Furkan Dogan

By Gareth Porter, t r u t h o u t | Report truthout
September 27, 2010

http://www.truth-out.org/un-fact-finding-mission-says-israelis-executed-us-citizen-furkan-dogan63609?

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla
released last week shows conclusively, for the first
time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish
citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli
commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US
citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small
video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when
he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in
the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face
at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the
deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some
time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is
"tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating
that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The
report describes the forensic evidence as showing that
"the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top,
together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder
that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is
compatible with the shot being received while he was
lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the
fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan's killing and
that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on
the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-
legal, arbitrary and summary executions." (See Report
[.pdf] Page 38, Section 170)

The report confirmed what the Obama administration
already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the
administration has remained silent about the killing of
Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political
problem for the administration in its relations with
Israel.

The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan
to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to
the Department of Justice, according to a US government
source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of
the administration's policy of silence on the matter.
The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was
to determine whether an investigation of the killing by
the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.

Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the
autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney
refused to comment.

The administration has not volunteered any comment on
the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do
so by any news organization.  In response to a query
from Truthout, a State Department official, who could
not speak on the record, read a statement that did not
explicitly acknowledge  the report's conclusion about
the Israeli executions.

The statement said the fact-finding mission's report's
"tone and conclusions are unbalanced." It went on to
state, "We urge that this report not be used for
actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between
Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions
that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey
to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional
strong relationship."

Although the report's revelations and conclusions about
the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were
widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a
single story on the report has appeared in US news
media.

The administration has made it clear through its
inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no
intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US
citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.

On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack,
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a
statement saying that Israel "should be allowed to
undertake an investigation into events that involve its
national security" and that Israel's military justice
system "meets international standards and is capable of
conducting a serious and credible investigation."

Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was
killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report,
is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen.
Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been
shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi
Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while
lying seriously wounded.

The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence
that, after the initial shot in chest from above,
Bilgen was shot in the head with a "soft baton round at
such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its
wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest
from above," the mission concluded.

"Soft baton rounds" are supposed to be fired for
nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the
stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head,
especially from close range.

The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission
on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came
from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports
done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from
interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in
forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in
interpreting that forensic evidence.

The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on
board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the
economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the
version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli
military and supports the testimony of passengers on
board.

The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli
policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to
use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes
testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before
the Israeli government's Turkel Committee that specific
orders were given by the Israeli government "to
continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla
organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that
amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were
terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli
forces."

The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with
terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces
appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the
operation as likely to require the use of military
force against the passengers.

When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over
the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli
press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi
Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly
force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the
Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and
Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for
the mission, were advocating defending the boat against
the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers
advocated nonviolence only.

That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from
railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara.
However, the commission concluded that there was no
evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the
ship, as charged by Israel.

The report notes that the Israeli military never
communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on
board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the
official justification given by the Israeli government
for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other
ships of preventing any military contraband from
reaching Gaza.

According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General
Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee
August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the
operation prohibited live fire except in life-
threatening situations, but that that they were later
modified to target protesters "deemed to be violent" in
response to the resistance by passengers.

That decision apparently followed the passengers'
successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the
ship from Zodiac boats.

The report confirms that, from the beginning of the
operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters
flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the
deck.

Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli
troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no
medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli
soldier was found.

The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on
the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten
Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and
threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as
evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered
below and some were treated for wounds before being
released by the defenders.

The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the
most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the
events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the
flotilla of the four that have been announced.

The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T.
Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the
International Criminal Court and former attorney
general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir
Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former
chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special
Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of
Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of
the International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia
Pacific.

The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli
attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan.
The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the
fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in
both planning and carrying out the attack available to
be interviewed.

The Turkish governments announced its own investigation
of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a "Panel
of Inquiry" on August 2, but its mandate was much more
narrowly defined. It was given the mission to "receive
and review the reports of the national investigations
with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar
incidents in the future."

_____________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
interpret the world and to change it.

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