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Israel under fire for doctoring flotilla recordings
Published Saturday 05/06/2010 (updated) 29/06/2010 21:47
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By Mya Guarnieri

Correction appended

Tel Aviv - Ma'an - Israel's military came under intense scrutiny Saturday after releasing a new, heavily edited version of a video it had distributed to journalists in the days following its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy.

Initially distributing footage of its navy radioing the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara prior to a raid that left nine dead Monday, the military released a new version Friday that it said proves its claims that many aboard were religious extremists.

The audio includes two lines meant to demonstrate fanaticism on the part of Muslim passengers on board the ship, many of whom Israel's army has claimed had "terrorist" ties. "Shut up. Go back to Aushwitz," one man purportedly tells a navy officer via radio before another, with a heavy Southern accent, states that "We're helping Arabs go against the US. Don't forget 9/11 guys."

Bloggers soon picked up on discrepancies between the two. Ma'an also investigated, approaching the army early Saturday and confirming with Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian activist and chair of the Free Gaza Movement, that her voice was used in the recording. She is heard speaking normally via radio.

Saturday's version supposedly came from the Marmara, at least according to the military. But Arraf was actually a passenger on another of the flotilla's boats, the Challenger 1.

Under mounting pressure, the army ultimately released yet another version of the recording late Saturday, bringing to three the total number of different takes on what the military insists is the same event.

The army issued what it called a "clarification/correction," explaining that "There have been questions regarding the authenticity of the recording as well as its attribution to a communication with the Mavi Marmara," a statement said.

"So to clarify: the audio was edited down to cut out periods of silence over the radio as well as incomprehensible comments so as to make it easier for people to listen to the exchange. We have now uploaded the entire segment of 5 minutes and 58 seconds in which the exchange took place and the comments were made.

"This transmission had originally cited the Mavi Marmara ship as being the source of these remarks, however, due to an open channel, the specific ship or ships in the 'Freedom Flotilla' responding to the Israeli Navy could not be identified."

But discrepancies in the Israeli army's story remain.

Like the second version, the latest video includes three responses. The responses, previously attributed to the Mavi Marmara, are now attributed to the flotilla as a whole. The first comes from man with a strange accent who supposedly told his Israeli counterpart to go "back" to the Auschwitz death camp.

Then Arraf follows. In the new version, she addresses the Israeli navy, explaining that "this is the Freedom Flotilla. We are comprised of six motor vessels, carrying only passengers and humanitarian aid destined for the Gaza Strip. We do not carry anything that constitutes a threat to your armed forces. Therefore you are not justified in using any force against us.

"The blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law. We have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter. We repeat we do not constitute any threat to your armed forces. You are not [Break in transmission; unidentified male English speaker says, "Navy is the best."] against unarmed civilians. Over."

"The third response, seemingly disconnected from the prior two events, comes from the man with the heavy Southern accent who says the ship's passengers are "helping Arabs go against the US," adding, "Don't forget 9/11 guys."

Reacting early Saturday afternoon, Arraf remarked, "I was by the radio the whole time there was any communication. Mine was the only boat in which I answered and not the captain and they all answered in a very professional manner." Arraf told Ma'an that while she is certain that she had spoken about permission from the Gaza Port Authority on a previous attempt to break the blockade, she could not be sure that she said it again on Monday morning. "When they radioed us, we were still 100 miles away," she explained.

The Israeli army seized all recording devices from all activists and journalists on the flotilla. It has released only its own edited footage of parts of the raid.

"We recorded the transmission ourselves, but the Israeli commandos confiscated all of our documentation. If they have nothing to hide, they should return our equipment, footage and recordings," Arraf said.

In the first video released in the immediate aftermath, a soldier says, "Mavi Marmara, you are approaching an area of hostility which is under a naval blockade." There is no recorded response.

The soldier continues, "The Gaza area, coastal region, and Gaza harbor are closed to all maritime traffic." Again, no response.

The soldier radios once more, saying, "The Israeli government supports delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and invites you to enter the Ashdod port …"

In the first updated version, five days later, three alleged responses from passengers are, according to the video, heard on board the Mavi Marmara. This clip shows only a still of the soldier who appears in the first footage.

The soldier, who is not named, does not address the Mavi Marmara as he did in the video released Monday. Instead, he says, "This is the Israeli navy; you are approaching an area which is under a naval blockade."

Asked about claims that army video had been faked, an Israeli army representative remarked, "There is no basis for the allegations."

*** In a previous version of this article Arraf was quoted as saying she was "certain" that she did not say she had permission to dock in Gaza from the Port Authority there, but later clarified that "Listening to the new version released by the Israelis, I have no reason to doubt that I did say it on this voyage also." The article has been modified to reflect that clarification.
1 ) Jamal / USA
06/06/2010 01:02
That is not a real Southern accent on the tape. There are many Southern accents but the way the speaker pronounces the vowels in "going" reveals his real speech is not at all Southern or any of those dialects. I know; I am from the South. Its probably some Israeli navy guy goofing around on the radio. Also his choice of calling them "Arabs" going against the US is in line with Israeli standard operating procedure of denying the existence of a Palestinian identity.

2 ) Robert Barnes / U.S.A.
06/06/2010 03:40
Israel has long been known as a terroist state. Can not the Muslim states
issue arrest warrants for the criminals in Israel? Are the Arab leaders so
terrified of these small time gangsters? Bring the Israeli Prime Minister
before the International Criminal Court. Erdogan seems to be the only
Leader with any Backbone.

3 ) spux / uk
06/06/2010 05:03
The IDF spokesman says that only radio silence was cut out of the shorter recording. However, Huwaida Arraf goes from uttering one short sentence in the original, to several in the longer version. It's not only radio silence that was edited, but the actual voices, the IDF should have to update their claim and acknowledge this.

4 ) Bob- / Canada
06/06/2010 12:14
Erdogan sounds like a wounded dog who is mad and hypocritical to the nth degree. Turks hated and butchered Arabs under the Ottoma Empire. Now they are performing genocide on the Kurds. The Armenians have suffered enough and ask the Greeks how they like Turks. Oh yes there is a small occupation and Invasion of Northern Cyprus....do we need more exaples of the teapot calling the kettle black?

5 ) Elisabeth / Netherlands
06/06/2010 14:57
I actually start to wonder about how open this channel was. If some prankster was obviously able to insert (what can only have been) "(The israeli) navy is the best!", then all possibilities as to where these voices came from (if they were originally on the tape) are open.

6 ) southparkbear / usa
06/06/2010 15:10
there are 1Bil muslims who are born to hate israel. We are used to it. As for allegation they are funny

7 ) Tom Dennen / USA / SOUTH AFRICA
06/06/2010 16:04
International waters. Illegal boarding of ships carrying among others, Turkish and American flags. "Hijack. Piracy. Murder." Great story. Hope the good guys win.

8 ) David / Israel
06/06/2010 18:14
Update shmupdate, Israel will continue lying and selling out the dead of the holocaust for whatever they want. The concept of truth isn't prized in my country, it's a "do what you have to do" kind of place. This is admirable and courageous, but makes Israel an outcast when caught. Problem is, Israel is not supported by the world - they should have thought of that when such a crazy adventure was begun. That is, it very well might end.

9 ) Proud / Israel
06/06/2010 19:33
"Israel has long been known as a terroist state" Why stop there ? let me add some more "truths" for you: "Erdogan is the epitome of righteousness" "It is a fact that Jews are responsible for every major catastrophe that happened" "It is clear that Israel has absolutely no morals - they exist only because of the Jewish Zionist pig lobbyists" "The Arabs care about the Palestinians" "The Turks care about the Palestinians" "Iran cares about the Palestinians" moron puppet on a string

10 ) Jonah S. / Canada
06/06/2010 19:46
Look it's totally normal for people to hate on Israel - people have always hated on Jews since the beginning. People still hate Jews. It's wrong that Israel is instantly thought of as Jewish - there are many, many Christians and Muslims and others as well. It's not fair that the world is attacking Israel for doing nothing wrong. With respect to Israel confiscating the activist's documentation - obviously they didn't want the activists editing their own anti-Israel version of the story.

11 ) Freedom tortilla / denmark
06/06/2010 21:49
it's obviously someone with an israeli accent saying "YOU'RE helping arabs going against the US. Don't forget 9.11 guys."

12 ) Geoffrey Bok / the United States
06/06/2010 22:56
Israel has broken the law and is currently to be regarded as a rogue state. They have committed crimes equal to or surpassing the crimes of the pirates. They cannot be permitted to terrorize the free world any longer. Our politicians need to get together and decide how to move forward.

13 ) Vladimir / Czech Republic
06/06/2010 23:07
IDF Spokeperson claims that clarification/correction video was published on the 5th June 2010. How is it possible that it was uploaded to YouTube on the 4th June 2010? 1) Travelling in time is possible. 2) Clarification/correction video was prepared in the same time as original video. It was ahead prepared misleading practice targeted against honour of Mavi Marmara passengers!

14 ) NadePaulKuciGravMcKi / states
07/06/2010 02:56
IDF assures all Americans that 9/11 went down exactly as you were told. Three towers, perfect pentagon, secret shanksville, anthrax intimidation. Dancing Mossad agree. Never question 9/11. Never research 9/11. NYC asbestos

15 ) w00t / Netherlands
07/06/2010 04:55
Elisabeth: Duh! That's the very nature of radio transmissions.

16 ) southparkbear / usa
07/06/2010 05:14
ignorance, stupidity, shameless, chutzpa. #7, there are many people who know zero about international law and anything that requires reading. Had someone took time to read international law he/she would speak differently. however, many would rather go with the masses rather be we the mobb than risk reading.

17 ) Calm / Canada
07/06/2010 16:26
I'm all confused now.

I've also read the article at Max Blumenthal's site and I'm totally confused.

Why can't it be said that somebody on shore listening to the radio transmissions chirped in?

Has anybody been actually identified as having made the comments?

Or is Israel simply suggesting that the comments originated from the Flotilla?

I'd really appreciate clarification from somebody UN-Confuse me.


18 ) silf / Canada
08/06/2010 00:59
The damage is already done. Israel knew perfectly what it needed to do to spin the media in the fateful first two days of the attack. First jam all communications, then confiscate all film media of any kind, hold journalists as long as possible, while at the same time, supplying international media with your own heavily doctored footage with helpful labels to boot. It's a perfect play, but demonstrates one thing alone -- that it is only propaganda and has little bearing on the truth.

19 ) vaughan / canada
08/06/2010 01:56
Turkey is not interested in Palestinians. It is using its supposed sympathy for Palestinians to become the leader of the Moslem world. Remember that when Turkey ruled the Middle East for more than 500 years, it oppressed Arabs, just as it did Christians. To this day, the Place of Martyrs in the centre of Beirut is dedicated to the Lebanese martyrs who were hanged by the Turkish government during World War I.

20 ) peter veilleux / usa
08/06/2010 09:03
and so begin the retractions. there will be many, but they'll be slow in coming. how many times do we have to hear the cries of 'wolf' before the u.s. press wakes up and questions the veracity, before publishing it word for word as THE TRUTH?


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