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Five years on, Guardian continues to mislead over Mavi Marmara incident

The Guardian’s obsessive and completely one-sided coverage of the May 31, 2010 incident on board the Mavi Marmara – in which ‘activists’ (many of whom were associated with the terrorist-affiliated group IHH) attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza – included more than 70 separate reports and commentaries in the first four days alone.

Of course, the overwhelming consensus of Guardian contributors, editors and reporters was that Israel was guilty of something akin to ‘piracy’ or even “state terrorism“, a narrative illustrated by this cartoon published on June 1st, 2010 by Steve Bell.


However, the cartoon villainy ascribed to Israel over the incident turned out to be erroneous, based in large measure on the findings of a 2011 UN report (The Palmer Commission).  Though the report claimed that Israel used “excessive force”, the Israeli commandos, the report also concluded, facedorganized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to defend  themselves. The report also criticized the vessel’s passengers for “acting recklessly” in attempting to breach Israel’s “legal” naval blockade.

Fast forward to 2016, to an article by David Smith (Gaza activists’ lawsuit argues Israel attacked US territory in raid on ship, Jan. 12th) about three Americans and a Belgian who are suing Israel in a Washington, DC court, arguing that the raid on the US-registered aid ship “violated US sovereignty”.

Whilst the merits of the suit are the beyond the scope of this post, Smith’s article includes two false claims, and one serious omission.

Here’s the opening sentence of the article:

Four activists are attempting to make legal history by arguing that Israel attacked American territory when it raided a US-registered ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza six years ago

However, as noted by our colleague Tamar Sternthal in a post about a recent Los Angeles Times piece, the Mavi Marmara was not in fact carrying any “humanitarian supplies”.

As Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported at the time:

Of the seven flotilla ships, only four were freight ships. The Challenger 1 (small yacht), the Sfendonh (small passenger boat) and the Mavi Marmara (passenger ship) did not carry any humanitarian aid, except for the passengers’ personal belongings. (Emphasis added.)

The UN Palmer Report appeared to back up this conclusion, when they questioned the intentions of the pro-Gaza activists on board by noting that what little aid was on the Mavi Marmara was merely “intended for the voyage itself”.

Additionally, the Guardian reporter fails to question the claim of one of the plaintiffs in the suit, who alleges that the passengers were “unarmed”.  In fact, in Sept, 2012, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) ruled against Guardian contributor Conal Urquhart, who had similarly claimed, in a story earlier that year, that the pro-Gaza ‘activists’ on the Mavi Marmara were “unarmed”.

Finally, the Guardian article includes a serious omission in the penultimate paragraph:

Israel has said it maintains the maritime blockade of Gaza and its 1.8 million residents as a security measure against militant attacks and smuggling. A report on the attack released by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2010 found that “the force used by the Israeli soldiers in intercepting the Challenger 1 … was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate, and amounted to violations of the right to physical integrity”.

Whilst citing the initial UNHRC report – which was released before the Israeli and Turkish reports on the incident – the Guardian’s Smith neglected to note the UN Palmer Report noted above.  Indeed, the conclusions of the Palmer report were reported by the Guardian at the time of its release (UN investigation backs Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, Sept. 1, 2011) and subsequently by other contributors throughout the years.

We’ve contacted Guardian editors seeking a correction, and will update you when we receive a reply.

54 replies »

    • I’m fond of journalists who are consistent, provide readers with all the relevant facts and abide by the accuracy clause of the UK editors’ code.

      • @Adam Levick –

        Your first objection to the Guardian story could be very simply amended. Instead of saying Israel “raided a US-registered ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza” it could say, Israel “raided a US-registered ship, WHICH WAS PART OF A FLOTILLA carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza”.

        If, however, the Guardian wants to fully comply with your fondness for all the relevant facts, its story might have to be lengthened quite a bit to include Israel’s official log of the flotilla cargoes unloaded, starting with this one @ :

        “… Of the four freight ships – Gaza, Sofia, Defeny and Rachel Corrie – as of June 7, SIBAT had only offloaded equipment from the Defeny. As of June 7, the equipment offloaded was loaded onto 26 trucks. (An additional eight trucks are waiting at the Kerem Shalom crossing to enter the Gaza Strip.) The equipment includes:

        1. 300 wheelchairs
        2. 300 new mobility scooters
        3. 100 special mobility scooters for the disabled
        4. Hundreds of crutches
        5. 250 hospital beds
        6. 50 sofas
        7. Four tons of medicine
        8. 20 tons of clothing, carpets, school bags, cloth and shoes
        9. Various hospital equipment – closets and cabinets, operating theater equipment, etc.
        10. Playground equipment
        11. Mattresses

        “The equipment remaining at Ashdod Port on the three ships which have not been offloaded include some 2000 tons of construction equipment – building materials and tools, and construction waste (rubble, toilets, sinks and cement) for re-use..”

        Yup – that would begin to set the record more nicely straight!

        • Yes, let’s set the record straight. For starters, your humanitarian assistance was largely expired medications and rusty wheelchairs. Which, by the way, could have gone through the proper channels already in place.

          But, yes. Israel makes you spittle. Got it!

          • ” Which, by the way, could have gone through the proper channels already in place.” Not if it had included lentils. And as John Kerry famously asked……

            ” When was the last time you were blown up by a lentil bomb ” ?

            • Tons of food and supplies a week go through Israeli crossings and into Gaza.

              It’s disgusting what happened in Syria, which is nowhere near what has been happening in Gaza.

            • I would be more cautious with quoting Kerry – the seriously embarrassing clown of the US administration who can understand terror attack against Jews and anti-religious newspapers.

          • @peterthehungarian –

            RE: “how did you forget the out of date medicines? A shortage of memory?”

            Must admit I got a bit distracted by Koufaxmitzvah’s “rusty wheelechairs” claim (which I’d never seen before and stll can’t find elsewhere) but, anyway, back to those medicines:

            I guess the Guardian might usefully include an additional snippet on this, though it might extend the story to ‘War and Peace’ length by the time it was explained that (a) various reported estimates have been made of how many medicines were past their expiry dates, ranging from “some” to “two-thirds” to “all” and that (b) the whole issue could in any case be a red herring…

            According to Harvard Medical School, for eg, a Food and Drug Administration study found that “90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date” (@ ).

            But no doubt UKMediaWatch would be able to find lots of conflicting reports if Harvard’s was the only one cited – hence the need for a truly marathon “correction” running over several pages, I think.

            • Yes, Miranda, it’s the first time you ever heard about Rusty Wheelchairs on the Mavi Marmara. So the choice is you are either a clueless idiot, or the accusation serves no worth.

              I searched Google for Mavi Marmara + Rusty Wheelchairs and came up with a few pages of hits. You can read those articles and not be so clueless if you so desire.

              • @koufaxmitzvah –

                Many thanks for your search tip, which I followed to the letter ( ).

                Sadly, the only item listed delivering an ACTUAL “Mavi Marmara rusty wheelchairs” mention was one at the very top. And … guess who the author was … Yes, you! Your own comment on this thread! Congratulations, KFM, on achieving such a scoop!

                There was another which I thought looked promising (@ ), but for some reason it transpired not to contain any reference to either the Mavi Marmara, or wheelchairs, or even rust. All the rest I saw (gave up after page 2) were about wheelchairs in general, with a sprinkling discussing other rusty things, and a couple by someone called “Rusty”.

                • Such a fast reader. Impressive!

                  Can you now find me some links for Gazans Starving and, of course, anything involving the Kerem Crossing, which I believe is where 7-8 tons of food a week (not sure!) cross through. From Israel. For Gazans.

                  Yes…. What fun! Those weren’t rusty wheelchairs! They were just wheelchairs that nobody thought to take through the Kerem Crossing into Gaza because who could possibly deny headlines suggesting that Israel is stopping necessary medical equipment from reaching Gazans if you can’t stow it on a boat with a bunch IHH terrorist supporters and their knives!

                  Ah…. Superlatives don’t work with Miranda, KFM. Come on!

                  • @koufaxmitzvah –

                    RE: “Can you now find me some links for Gazans Starving and, of course, anything involving the Kerem Crossing, which I believe is where 7-8 tons of food a week (not sure!) cross through. From Israel. For Gazans.”

                    Why are you asking ME for these links? I never claimed Gazans were starving and can’t see anyone else doing so either. The flotilla wasn’t carrying food for good reason – that other charities and aid agencies were (and are) permitted by Israel to deliver food in enough bulk to STAVE OFF starvation.

                    You make it sound as though Israel is – herself – the food provider, instead of just the gatekeeper controlling its passage.

                    One link I do recommend for an assessment of the poverty (and associated social, physical and psychological traumas) in Gaza is this one: .

                    And for some idea of how easily the gatekeeper’s role can … and perhaps, someday, will on Gaza’s border … shift to one of deliberate civilian deprivation, with food control used as a weapon of war:

                    • I think it’s important for you to understand how fucking insane you are.

                      This conversation is about the flotilla. Not about you. The flotilla has accused Israel of starving Gazans. You play along as if Israel is starving Gazans….. Or, you know, ABOUT to starve Gazans, which is about as logical as Israel ABOUT to become an Apartheid state. And of course, the GENOCIDE of Palestinians that never quite happened.

                      For the last time, you crazed, insane, batshit twit, THERE HAVE BEEN SYRIANS STARVING FOR FOUR LONG YEARS AND YOU AND YOUR MAVI MARMARA COHORTS DO SHIT ABOUT IT.

                      But keep blaming Jews, Bitch. Keep making yourself a victim of Zionist aggression.

                      I think we’re at the part of the conversation when the only way you will understand what has been repeated to you over and over again is if a Palestinian mistakes you for a Jew, and stabs the fuck out of you.

                      As a final note, you have done shit for the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Israel continues to exist and succeed. And that obviously gets your goat, because the last thing you’re interested in is a logical peace for all.

                      Go fuck yourself, Miranda. Yes, with a chainsaw. Sideways.

                • Speaking of super superlatives, how about that Israeli Apartheid and Palestinian Genocide! When I search for those words, do you know what I find? Nonsense from nutballs like you.

                  But yes, Rusty Wheelchairs on the Mavi Marmara…. .Just another ZIOPLOT to DISTRACT THE MASSES.

            • Hamas doesn’t want the ‘humanitarian’ aid. “So we don’t want donor countries to give us fish, or to teach us how to fish, as the saying goes”, They want war and Israel defeated.

        • “Israel “raided a US-registered ship, WHICH WAS PART OF A FLOTILLA carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza”.”

          As if the purpose of that flotilla were to deliver desperately needed expired medicines to people who couldn’t get. Sure, Miranda, you could change it to say that. Sure, it’s complete bullshit, but why you let that stop you? Think of your heroes.

    • Bellamy I am still waiting for you to answer my questions.
      Now be a good boy and hurry up, it has been several weeks already.

  1. So any ship must be allowed into Gaza since it belongs to another nation?

    Interesting idea.

    Now, about that ISIS crew with its dirty bomb on a Panamanian vessel sailing into the Port of London …. I hope that no-one will break international law by trying to stop it.

    • Well the British have a right to prevent any ship they want sailing in to the Port of London. But the Marmara wasn’t sailing into Israel was it. On the contrary it was forcibly escorted into Israel.

      • Bellamy while I am waiting for you to reply to my questions, be a good boy toddle off and put on your cap of bells.
        You might as well dance and dress like a fool as you seem determined to carry on acting like one.

      • Yes, Stephen, they were found in breach of a legal naval blockade of a terrorist stronghold. They didn’t pull over when instructed by the police. It’s the sort of thing you’d find yourself spending the night in a jail cell for. Of course, Israel brought them into port for inspection and interrogation after that motley crew pulled a publicity stunt on behalf of terrosists with zero moral or legal claim to a damn thing.

  2. Bell is a serial shit. Literally turns my stomach to know that such a turd is published in this country. His toxic propaganda is never a mistake, it’s always deliberate and driven by psychotic hatred.

  3. @Edward –


    Thanks for this link – an interesting piece of research – but you really should have read its ‘Discussion’ section (which you clearly didn’t) before so confidently claiming a “house of cards collapse”:

    ‘…these results might be explained by eating a greater [quantity] of inadequate food especially [those] who lived in the refugee camp, where food assistance programs provides food such as stocks of rice, flour, sugar, and cooking oil that is rich in sugar, carbohydrate, sodium, and fat which encourages weight gain.

    ‘According to the Nutritional Assessment of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2003, 71.8% of the population in the Gaza Strip especially in the refugee camp received food assistance from humanitarian agencies mainly from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the World Food Program. Townsend et al., (2001) indicated that over consuming by food-insecure families when food assistance or money for food is available, followed by a short period[s] of involuntary food restriction, followed by overeating, and could be a pattern that results in gradual weight gain over time. This finding may predict a future increase in obesity trends unless appropriate preventive measures are carried out….’

    The links I provided for Koufaxmitzvah (but, as usual, he ignored) made no assertion that Gazans were starving – only that very severe levels of poverty, with widespread aid-dependency of the sort described above, were continuing today.

    • Of course, the only reason they are aid-dependent is because the Joooz keep them imprisoned in a concentration camp for no reason at all (other than the Jooz’ innate satanic evil lack of morality, of course).
      Take a hike, loser.

      • John,
        Anti-Semites such as Miranda have a right to have their voices heard, no matter how stupid or embarrassing they are.

        • Nobody has a ‘right’ to have their voices heard on a private blog. Please don’t tell me you are one of those who don’t understand what free speech is about.

          • @John Kinory –

            RE: “Nobody has a ‘right’ to have their voices heard on a private blog….”

            How true. But what makes you think UK Media Watch is YOUR “private blog” rather than Adam Levick’s?

            If he wants me to “take a hike”, that’s his privilege – just as he’s entitled (but chooses not to) block you and other verbal bullies (including quite a few whose almost entire contribution to “hasbara” is spouting a stream of obscenities) from this site.

            • Levick is correct allowing your kind of commenters. Your and your chums’ posts are the best demonstrations of the thesis that
              – anti-israelis, anti-Zionist are simple field versions of classic Jew-haters
              – they have serious social (or marital, financial, professional, sexual) problems and being unable to solve them they need
              Israel as a convenient scapegoat to vent their frustration and hate
              – and finally that they don’t give a broken bedpan about the Palestinians – they are only the proxy you send to fight, suffer and die.

            • Miranda calling others ‘bullies’ – ROFLMAOWMP.
              As to the rest of your rant, just the usual pathetic mixture of bigotry, bile and reading comprehension failure.