Israel’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Carmon, speaks to Democracy Now! and defends the Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla that killed at least nine people in international waters. "Israel enforced a maritime blockade, which is a measure that is totally legal in international law, to enforce a blockade when there is a possibility of a danger emanating from some source. And this was exactly the case." [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: On the line with us is Ambassador Ed Peck. He is just back from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, one of the ships — the ships were attacked by Israeli commandos. But first, we’re going to turn to another diplomat. Sharif?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, yesterday I had a chance to speak with Israel’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Carmon. I reached him on the phone and questioned him about the raid.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Why did Israel attack a boat carrying more than 600 international activists in international waters?
DANIEL CARMON: Israel did not attack a boat. Israel enforced a maritime blockade, which is a measure that is totally legal in international law, to enforce a blockade when there is a possibility of a danger emanating from some source. And this was exactly the case. There was a flotilla of so-called real, genuine humanitarian aid to Gaza. And when I’m saying "so-called," I mean some of this flotilla was not a genuine, naive humanitarian aid-only flotilla. And for this reason and for the danger that emanated from this, we — our navy enforced the blockade, as —-
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: But this was in international waters.
DANIEL CARMON: The international law -— and I would refer you to international law — when there is a danger, when there are conditions that require this, boarding can be done on a dangerous vessel in international waters, too.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Eyewitnesses said commandos came out shooting, the Israeli commandoes came out shooting.
DANIEL CARMON: Not at all. Not at all. The Israeli navy, after repeatedly offering a remedy and an alternative for transferring the humanitarian aid to Gaza through the port of Ashdod, the Israeli for weeks now, after updating the organizers and the relevant governments about our intentions, did exactly what we said we would do: boarded the ship — the ships, and I’m talking about there were six ships, by the way. Five ships adhered totally to what they were supposed to do and replied and reacted positively to the communications done by the Israeli navy. One particular ship, the Marmara
, which had onboard not humanitarian activists only, but some activists of a very extreme organization called IHH, which had other intentions, had other plans, and the plans were to provoke. And more than this, when the Israeli navy —-
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: What evidence do you have of those plans? IHH is an organization that works across Turkey and the world.
DANIEL CARMON: Yes, and is also connected to terrorism and to al-Qaeda and some elements from the people of this organizations, when the Israeli naval soldiers came down to the ship in order to -— to enforce the blockade, after repeated advertisement that were answered by "negative" or four-letter words, which I will not repeat here, were attacked. And I think you saw that on TV also. I hope you did.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, let me ask you —-
DANIEL CARMON: By knife, clubs, shooting from live ammunition. One soldier was thrown overboard. You have it all in the media. And the reaction is a very natural reaction, unfortunate result, but a natural reaction of self-defense.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Let me ask you about that video that was released by the Israeli military. Will you release an unedited video of the excerpts that have been playing on the networks?
DANIEL CARMON: I am not -— I’m not aware of what you mean by "edited" or "unedited," but I think you saw that — you saw that, and it speaks by itself.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And do you know who filmed it?
DANIEL CARMON: No, I have no idea.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And why haven’t you released the names of the dead? At least nine were killed. First of all, do you know how — can you confirm the number of dead?
DANIEL CARMON: As much as I know, there are nine dead in this unfortunate incident, some injured and Israeli soldiers wounded, including two gravely wounded.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, there are families around the world who are anxiously awaiting news. Why have the names of the dead not been released yet?
DANIEL CARMON: We would have to check it with the local authorities.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And why is Israel continuing to hold hundreds of international activists? What is their crime?
DANIEL CARMON: Any of the participants in this so-called protest, which is much more than just a — even much more than just a protest, those who are suspected of trespassing the law, there will be measures that would be applied. All those who don’t will be released as soon as possible. We have indicated this from the start of this operation. We have indicated this in the planning stages. We had no intention of doing anything — anything — that was problematic. The problems and the confrontation and the violence came from the other side, from those who misused the disguised — the disguise of humanitarian aid to do something else. And this something else is the lynch that we saw in this clip that — in this horrible clip that we all saw.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, the UN Security Council has condemned the raid. What is your response?
DANIEL CARMON: I would — I would suggest to read exactly the text of various communications in the last few days. I haven’t seen — the condemnation is a condemnation of the act that brought this incident to be what it was, and I think that you can interpret exactly, meaning that the flotilla by itself — and we have heard it in various communications and speeches in the Security Council. If the flotilla was a genuine, innocent humanitarian aid flotilla, things would go the other way, exactly as other flotillas went and other convoys went there before. But unfortunately, this was not the case. They had other intentions. They had other connections. And they wanted to provoke. And provoke, they did.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: That was Israel’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Carmon, speaking with me yesterday.