Sunday, August 28, 2016


Interview: 'We Are Not Terrorists,' Gaza Activist Says

An Israeli military vessel (left) escorts one of the boats in a Gaza-bound aid convoy with Israeli troops on board to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.
An Israeli military vessel (left) escorts one of the boats in a Gaza-bound aid convoy with Israeli troops on board to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.
At least 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying supplies for the Gaza Strip on May 31.

Greta Berlin, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, an organizer of the convoy, spoke with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service correspondent Anna Zamejc about the deadly event.

RFE/RL: What happened this morning?

Greta Berlin:
We were attacked by Israeli militaries. We were flotilla, six civilian ships and about 4:30 this morning Israeli "commandos," if that's what you want to call them, rappelled down off a helicopter and landed at least on the deck of the Turkish [ship], not sure about the other one, looked around and started to shoot at us.

They have killed 10 people that we know of -- that's the number I'm going to stick with right now until I get further confirmation. Then they commandeered the ships and forced them to go in the Ashdod port. They were several members of parliament on board, including MPs from Sweden, Norway, and Germany. We were 70 miles off the coast of Israel, they attacked us. That is a crime; they committed a crime on international waters.

RFE/RL: The Israeli officials say there were weapons aboard the flotilla to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, which was the reason Israeli commandos stormed the ship. Is that true?

I suppose, if you consider the paper and wheelchairs and crutches weapons, then the Israelis might have a point. Look, everyone on those ships was inspected before we left. The only weapons that were on board belonged to the Israelis. They might have planted them -- after all they stormed us and they killed us.

All you have to do is to look at the statistics what actually happened. We have at least 10 people dead, they were civilians! They stormed our boats! We have manifest on every one of those boats that say what is on those boats. And it was 4:30 in the morning when everybody is sleeping.

I will venture to say that Israel is lying about this, because the weapons that I saw coming on board this morning belonged to Israel.

RFE/RL: So you claim Israel planted the weapons after they stormed the ship?

If there were weapons, they planted those weapons.

RFE/RL: You said that so far 10 people have been confirmed dead. What nationalities were they?

I don't know yet, we have heard nothing. We have heard nothing from the ships, they've jammed all our communication, they took all our cell phones away, we have not been able to communicate with anybody since 3:30 this morning, Cyprus time.

RFE/RL: They were also rumors that Muslim leader Raed Salah is among the casualties. But this is something you haven't confirmed yet, right?

Yes, it's what I've heard but we haven't confirmed it. Nobody has any firm information about people who were killed and wounded.

RFE/RL: This was not the first time you went to Gaza with aid. How many times have you sent those ships to the Gaza Strip and why was the last convoy stormed by Israel?

Since August 2009 the Free Gaza Movement has gone nine times to Gaza. The first five we entered Gaza, we took members of parliament on our yard and nothing was done to us. There were many, many threats. Israel has threatened us all along, the last thing they want is for the people of Gaza to be free and to be able to rebuild their society. We went in five times, the last three were brutally stopped and we only had one boat.

A pro-Palestinian activist is evacuated to a hospital in Jerusalem.
So the Free Gaza Movement along with four other partners said: "We would not go back to Gaza again unless we have a flotilla. We need to take something substantive, not just sort of a token that says: 'we support your desire to be free.' We want to take back a substantive amount of supplies and take them into Gaza." And that's what we get.

Israel is terrified that if we open up a sea route to Gaza, Gaza eventually will be free and will have its own might to do its own trade. Gaza is the only territory in the world that has no access to its sea. Every other territory that borders water or an ocean has the right to its territory except for Gaza. We were trying to say to the world: a million and half people who live in Gaza are in outdoor prison and Israel has no right to do it.

RFE/RL: What kind of supplies do you carry on the ships and what goods were onboard the last flotilla sent to Gaza?

That's another reason Israel is terrified. Because the small amount of supplies we brought in on the yard was very small, they were just tokens. We're coming in with 10,000 tons of supplies Israel refuses to allow into Gaza. Israel only allows 81 items into Gaza. They won't allow any rebuilding supplies, they don't allow paper, they don't allow crayons for the children, they don't allow jam, they don't allow chocolate.

We didn't bring anything in on those ships except items that were already forbidden by Israel and were forbidden for the people of Gaza could not rebuild their infrastructure. We had cement, water-purification systems, prefab homes, 20 tons of paper -- Israel doesn't allow the people of Gaza to print their own books.

So there wasn't any way that Israel was going to take this easily because we have said to the world that Israel occupied Gaza and they are treating people as so they have the right to commit a slow-motion genocide on them and it hasn't gotten in and we will still continue to try to do that, then we will be successful opening a sea lane from Gaza to the rest of the world.

RFE/RL: When it comes to people on board the ships, do you have full control over who enters them? There were six ships in the flotilla; Israeli media claim that people related to terrorism were on board one of the ships. What's your response to that?

I can only speak for the Free Gaza Movement, we are one of five partners. Every single one of our passengers has been vetted. They had to have two recommendations before they get on board and we know exactly who was on board. But frankly, as far as I'm concerned, the only terrorist we saw this morning was Israel.

RFE/RL: So can you acknowledge from your side, that there were no people on board you would know of who had any links to terrorism?

I'm the wrong person to ask, you need to ask the Turks. Because the people Israel is accusing of being terrorists, were on the Turkish ship. We are responsible only for our own passengers.

No, I don't acknowledge any of that. The terrorists that came on board that boat last night were Israelis. They came armed to the teeth, they killed at least 10 of us, none of them were killed.

For all I know, there was one wounded in some kind of a scuffle. But they do this all the time, they kill a hundred Palestinians to every one Israeli.

Now they're killing 10 peaceful activists who were showing up in blue jeans. That is no excuse. If they thought there were any terrorists on board, they could have boarded the boat the way they did last summer, arrested the passengers, taken them off to jails. They did not need to have this kind of force.

RFE/RL: What kind of consequences will this morning's event have?

I do think that Israel is becoming ostracized among the world community the way South Africa was. Between the Lebanon war, Operation Cast Lead last year, and now attacking civilians on board what I call "ships of mercy," I think it's probably high time for the governments of the world to tell Israel, "You can't do this anymore."

We're doing this because the governments have refused to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes. So when governments don't do that, then civil society has an obligation do that.

This is why the Free Gaza Movement has been, in fact for the last two years to begin with, is to tell the world that Israel has no right to practice collective punishment on a people that are occupied. And Israel in fact is occupying them because they don't get anything that doesn't go through Israel first.

So this is a real challenge for Israel, because we are challenging their status quo of being able to hold 1.5 million people in prison.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: abi
May 31, 2010 20:08
if you want to know the truth, you must watch this video on yuotube:
In Response

by: Aviva Gabriel from: USA
June 01, 2010 11:15
That video doesn't show whether the beating of Israeli commandos was defensive or offensive. It proves nothing. In fact, I have been unable to find any information about whether IDF attacked first, or whether IHH activists attacked first (with poles + clubs, mind you...not sophisticated weaponry).
In Response

by: Gevin from: Toronto
June 01, 2010 19:34
Lol, you are not Aviva. You are Muhammad or Ahmad
In Response

by: Sisk from: USA
June 02, 2010 01:11
Eh...dude....they were attacked before they even got onto the deck of the boat. Use your eyes and your brain.

I find it interesting that they don't bother talking about the fact that they were warned long before this happened, or the fact that 7 Israeli soldiers were injured, or the fact that they started the mission with orders not to shoot. Whole lotta propaganda slinging going on here.

by: Nemo from: USA
May 31, 2010 23:26
I can't imagine why these activists thought that Israel would allow them to reach Gaza. It is too bad that 10 people lost their lives. The blockade would end if Hamas would recognize Israel and enter into peace talks.
The plight of the Palestinian people is largely due to many years of inept leadership. They seem to choose either terrorist (Hamas) or inept corrupt (Fatah) leaders. The sooner the Palestinians decide to make peace with Israel, the sooner their lives will begin to improve.
Clinton offered Arafat a good deal and he turned it down. Just think how much better Palestinians would be living if Arafat had taken the deal. How many more decades will Palestinians suffer before they have a leader how can agree to live in peace with Israel?
In Response

by: Ald from: Poland
June 01, 2010 08:18
the Palestinians decided to steer toward peace in 1988 when PLO finally recognised Israel. It's been a long time. Why, do you think, a lot of Palestinians are growing skeptical of the peace process? Because it's schizophrenic and they don't believe it can change things. There was so much faith in the Oslo process, but again much more rhetoric than real actions. Take late Itzhak Rabin, on one hand a great, courageous peacebuilder, on the other hand it was under his leadership that Israel accelarated the settlement activities.

And settlements today, what was an issue too in early nineties, remain one of the biggest obstacles to peace. I hear a lot of Palestinians saying today that things were better under Israeli occupation (sic!), that the Palestinian Autonomy (the Oslo talks' child) has brought nothing but further misery. I would have some hopes though. Fayyad is doing well on the West Bank, the economy is growing.

Btw, Camp David failed because of the Jerusalem issue. The holy city is the major sticking point, everything else can be overcome.

What is needed now, is a genuine reconciliation first between the Palestinians themselves. As long as the Palestinain leadership is disunited, there will be no successful resuming of peace talks.

by: anon from: michigan
June 01, 2010 04:15

Greta Berlin is a pathological liar and should be institutionalized for getting all these people killed.
In Response

by: naturalgirl from: California
June 01, 2010 16:36
Yes, she is a crazy fanatic! If this ship would have disembarked where they were supposed to, none of this would have occurred. Unfortunately enemies of Israel are good at suicide missions to create propaganda against Israel. By doing what they did they are attempting to prompt war, which we all know they live for.

by: Alf garrick from: Newcastle England
June 01, 2010 04:49


They pound them with first degreed missiles

They have used Mustard Gas ... Proven

They destroy what little infrastructure they have.

They distroy their homes, schools and hospitals

They deprive them of food
all outside assitance
Most of all of course they have stolen their country



All those wonderful people who left the comfort of their own homes to bring aid to the most desperate people on earth. The anticipated joy as they set out on their mercy mission, only to encounter a monster who has left them dead, the dreams of compassion scattered on the sea bed.
Are we all helpless?
In Response

by: Mark from: New York
June 01, 2010 11:00
You can see just how cleverly Greta tries to cover up the truth. First she says that she can only vouch for the activists on HER boat. Then, when asked about the others, she says that one would have to ask the Turks about them since this was THEIR ship, not hers. If she can only vouch for HER ship and HER, how is she so adamantly sure that there were no terrorists or weapons on any of the other 5 ships? (HER ship was not attacked, she is not claiming that anyone on HER ship was injured, and HER ship apparently peacefully arrived in Ashdod.)

To paraphrase Judge Judy, How can you tell when Muslims are lying?
Their lips are moving.
In Response

by: ald from: poland
June 02, 2010 09:01
well, it's kind of debatable and contentious. what you see as a terrorist activity, Greta and other activists might not see as terrorism. for example, liaising with hamas members, is that terrorism or not? is hamas a terrorist organization or a guerilla group, freedom fighters struggling for independence? undoubtedly targeting innocent lives using suicide bombing can be see as terrorism, but hamas hasnt conducted a suicide bombing for some two, three years.
In Response

by: Holly from: USA
June 01, 2010 13:54
"The Israel Navy warned the flotilla that the Gaza region is closed to maritime traffic."
"Early Monday morning (31 May), IDF naval forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israel Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid material which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections."
(both of the above quotes are from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Seems to me if the Navy says "STOP" STOP! And if you are truly on a humanitarian aid mission then you obey the law and do it peacefully.
In Response

by: dries Verbeke from: belgium
June 01, 2010 18:30
seems to me america is the world leader of war... if i were you id look some things up instead of being ignorant
In Response

by: clarke from: Canada
June 01, 2010 22:22
Gee, Holly-Israel is in violation of International Law as well as UN resolution 1860 in maintaining a maritime blockade on Gaza, so their "warning" is really just them shooting their mouths off again, clumsy bullying at best. They have no right to lay seige to Gaza. Israel is starving Palestinian children to the point of malnutrition (25%) and stunted growth (10%)-this is indicative of their level of morality. They boarded an aid ship in international waters under a hail of machine gune fire-something only a terrorist would do. Google Norman Finkelstein, and his assertion that Israel is a 'Lunatic State'. Then look up 'the holocaust industry, his 2003 book. Educate yourself while there is still time.
In Response

by: John from: California
June 01, 2010 17:19
Iran is funding Hamas' terrorist activities. Hamas are puppets of Irans terrorist government

Weapons are being smuggled into Gaza thru tunnells....they need to be destroyed.

Weapons are being stored in schools, hospitals, and homes...they need to be destroyed

It is unfortunate for the innocent people of Gaza that their leaders use them as human sheilds.

Israel has 40,000 rockets and missles pointed at them from every direction, they need to protect themselves.

And as for as the flotilla, they were warned several days ago to stay away from Gaza, they didn't, what did they expect, a fruit basket and a welcome to Israel card?

If a dog is growling at you and you stick your hand out you should expect to get bitten. Quit acting like victims
In Response

by: dries Verbeke from: belgium
June 01, 2010 18:35
usa trained osama bin laden
funded the early pakistan intellegence agency
iraq had no nuclear weapons
9/11 is an inside job

i can go on and on till the day your declaration of independence was signed!
In Response

by: serge from: france
June 02, 2010 09:07
no they didn't, the Pakistani ISI did
no it wasn't, silly conspiracy nonsense

and belgium isn't even a real country. I could go on and on... but so what? is knee-jerk anti-belgianism more intelligent than knee-jerk anti-americanism?

by: vytautasba from: vilnius
June 01, 2010 05:11
Time for a remake of the film "Exodus" only this time with the Palestinians on the boat. What a strange irony that Israel is doing this to people forced to live in the conditions of todays "ghetto" in Palestine-Gaza.

by: Jack luger from: Bellingham
June 01, 2010 06:52

This whole thing is being done to instigate trouble, that's why this scumbag organization said they would shoot Israeli Navy vessels in another altercation
a few days in advance. What should Israel let this terrorist organization come to port with who knows what on board? NO they had no choice but to board the ships a good distance away for safety. I saw the WHOLE video clearly this so called activist nonsense falls away quickly these guys would have killed the one soldier with metal pipes had not the rest of the team caught up and shot them dead instead.
In Response

by: Kimberly from: California
June 01, 2010 16:41
Yes, agree completely. Hamas, and other terrorist organizations will use propaganda to create sympathy. Most people don't realize that if this boat had followed orders and disembarked where they were supposed to, this would not have happened.

June 01, 2010 16:17
If You are not TERRORISTS, why do you support HAMAS?
Why do you not deliver AID through accepted channels?
Why do you not accept responsibilty for ALL of the ships in your flotillas?
Greta Berlin obviously is confused and every boat that challenges the blockade should be sunk. Anyone on board these ships is an accessory to Hamas.
In Response

by: Donald A Thomson from: Biboohra Queensland, Aust
June 02, 2010 00:07
Only 20% of the Palestinians who are allowed to live in Palestine have the vote for the Jewish parliament that has ruled them since 1967. There is only one country, not two, and that was created by the Jewish armed forces. There is no military threat to a people with more than 150 nuclear weapons, a strong Air Force and Pershing 2 missiles. That is enough genocide equipment to exterminate the Italians. All niggers should have the vote. It doesn't matter who the master race is, Europeans in apartheid South Africa or the southern states of the US, or Tutsis in Rwanda or Burundi.
In Response

by: Rob from: Canada
June 03, 2010 02:32
Right on Realist!! Hamas are terrorists. Supporters of Hamas are legitimate military targets. In Gaza and abroad.

by: gearoid from: ireland
June 01, 2010 19:01

Yet more civilians murdered by the brave boys of the IDF.

In Gaza, Lebanon and now international waters - Israel shows what it does best - kill civilians. Time to end the pretence that Israel is a modern civilised state.

It steals Palestinian land, kills civilians on a whim and foams at the mouth, bankrolled and armed to the teeth by the U.S.

by: Gevin from: Markham
June 01, 2010 20:54
Check the view from battle field on the ship
Obviously those solders were attacked:

A couple of days ago, I got link to email were Russians just sunk (killed) Somalian Pirates and published that they "released" them.

For some reason very little questions were asked. Those Hamas supporters (remember the old "good" terrorist Hamas ruling Gaza?) wouldn't dare to challenge Russians because there could be sure, that they all will be killed. All!!

Israel just wanted to send those ships to check up, not to repeat story with other Palestinian ship Carine A full of weapon.Many others ships, who had provided their supply already were checked and released to their way to Ashdod to unload their cargo, which was transferred to Gaza.. Like ships from Cyprus.
I'm telling you all those supporters have same roots (or they fanatic Muslim fundamentals, or innocent people fulled around by Iran type of propaganda). Be aware people, you've read about Muslim musk near Ground Zero to be build in New York? Where is the people's brain?

All those things : building musk near the place where Islamic fundamentalism killed 5000 people, supporting regimes of recognized terrorist groups as Hamas or Hizballa leads to additional violence.

by: kasra khorasani from: Canada
June 02, 2010 00:51
I am amazed at the many hateful comments. Aren’t we all racist? As always the powerful aggressor will commit horrible violence and blame the victims as aggressors. In the ancient time Egypt, Romans, Persians, Greeks have done this as they expanded their empires. In more recent times Spain, Portugal, France, Dutch Russia, British,... as they exploited their colonies. More recent examples are Americans killings of the natives and taking over their land. (Not to mention attacking Iraq for their own foreign policy reasons) Canadians and Australians have done the same to their native population occupying their lands. China does it routinely with all the minorities within their land. And now Israel is doing the same with occupying Palestine and when faced with resistance it shows force and if a tragedy happens, like we all have done, blame the victims.

But let us blame others and denie our own actions.
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