BBC: flotilla ‘a political ploy’

Panorama reveals stabbings and ‘useless’ medical supplies on ship

By Marcus Dysch, August 20, 2010
BBC reporter Jane Corbin sailing around the Mavi Marmara, impounded in an Israeli port

BBC reporter Jane Corbin sailing around the Mavi Marmara, impounded in an Israeli port

The Gaza flotilla in which nine died was aimed more at turning international opinion against Israel than providing aid for Palestininans.

That was the considered opinion of the BBC's Panorama programme screened on Monday.

Presenter Jane Corbin interviewed IDF soldiers involved. One, identified only as Captain R, told how he was stabbed by those on board.

"They came at me with knives and tried to stab me. I kept getting hit on my head and my whole body," he said.

"They caught me by the arms and legs to throw me to the deck below. I fought back wildly and caught hold of the side. They beat my hands with clubs and I fell.

"I felt a strong stab in my stomach. I looked down at my abdomen and saw it was a knife and I pulled it out. The beating was continuous as were the cries of 'Allahu Akbar'."

Yom kippur convoy

An aid convoy of more than 500 lorries is due to leave London for Gaza on Yom Kippur, former MP George Galloway has announced.
They are expected to travel through Europe as part of the Viva Palestina organisation’s efforts to deliver medical equipment and educational supplies to Palestinians.
September 18 has been chosen as it is the first Saturday after Ramadan. The convoy will join vehicles from Casablanca and Doha and travel to Rafah on the Egypt-Gaza border.

Bulent Yildirim, head of the Islamic IHH organisation, which is accused of having links to terrorist organisations, was pressed on whether he had provoked crew and passengers into attacking the Israelis.

He responded by saying he had spoken "correctly and beautifully".

But Ms Corbin showed examples of the aid the flotilla had carried and revealed that two-thirds of the medicine was out of date and "useless". She concluded: "The bid to break the naval blockade wasn't really about bringing aid to Gaza. It was a political move designed to put pressure on Israel and the international community."

The six-ship flotilla was organised by the Free Gaza Movement, and a Turkish group called the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid.

Armed forces boarded the largest vessel, the Mavi Marmara, 40 miles out to sea in international waters.

They say they were shot at and attacked with weapons. The activists said the troops came aboard shooting.

There was widespread international condemnation of Israel. Turkey withdrew its ambassador and cancelled joint military exercises.

The Zionist Federation "commended" the programme and encouraged supporters to write to Panorama editors "to thank them for their fair coverage".

But not everyone agreed. Australian singer Daniel Merriweather tweeted: "Shame on the BBC! This is what you call war propaganda."

Last updated: 11:55am, October 15 2010