Turkish Gaza Aid Ship Survivors Speak


Anita McNaught: The last passengers from the Mavi Marmara arrive at a hospital in Turkey — two men, up to now too badly injured to fly out of Israel, their lives still hanging in the balance. . . .  Of the 24 injured brought to Ankara’s Ataturk Hospital, five remain in a critical condition. . . .  Muharrem Güneş says he was trying to shield a wounded cameraman when he too was shot in the head.  Miraculously, the bullet missed a major artery when it passed out of his neck.

Muharrem Güneş: From close range they determined with their laser pointers I had not been shot.  My left cheek was turned toward them.  So they shot me in the face.  I’ve lost six teeth on one side.

Anita McNaught: Mustafa Beterhan has severe internal damage after he was cornered by commandos on the top deck, he told us.

Mustafa Beterhan: The people who shot me were two Israeli soldiers, standing about one meter from me.  From one meter away, they fired at me as if shooting a chicken.

Anita McNaught: Sadettin Furkan was another volunteer, up with the captain when the soldiers from the helicopter came to take over the bridge.  They shot him three times in one leg and again on the other foot.

Sadettin Furkan: They were shooting in all directions.  I felt a deep pain in my leg and began bleeding.  They shot me from behind.

Anita McNaught: His wife, Diler, had for two days not known if he was alive or dead and then heard he was in Israeli hospital.

Diler Furkan: It felt absurd that they would shoot him and then treat him.  Why are you shooting people if you are going to have to treat them afterwards?

Anita McNaught: From a neighboring bed, Suat Coşmaz recounted how he tried to keep the Israeli soldiers from boarding the ship.

Suat Coşmaz: Sure, we were protecting ourselves, with fire hoses.  We were trying to spray pressurized water at the Zodiacs.  That’s when they shot me.

Anita McNaught: The commandos who shot him, he told us, fired from a deck two stories above.  (To Suat Coşmaz) Would you go again?

Suat Coşmaz: Of course, of course.  We are not afraid to die.

Anita McNaught: If the Israeli government hoped that the operation on the Mavi Marmara would be a deterrent, it seems to have had the opposite effect.

Diler Furkan: If another expedition happens, I would let him go.  In fact, I want to go together with my husband.

Anita McNaught: And, for Ismail Yeşildağ, shot in the back, the challenge to other governments in the region.

Ismail Yeşildağ: I want to give a message to the Arab leaders: stop acting against the wishes and thoughts of the Arab people and start acting the way your people want.

Anita McNaught (translating the words of another injured man): “Greetings to Hamas — On with the Resistance” is this man’s parting shot.  Many of the injured are deeply religious.  These events have not only radicalized them further but put most of Turkey behind them.

* * *


Excerpt from Robert Booth, “Gaza Flotilla Activists Were Shot in Head at Close Range” (Guardian, 4 June 2010):

Israel was tonight under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.

Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back.  A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back.  Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine. . . .

Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, said that in only one case was there a single bullet wound, to the forehead from a distant shot, while every other victim suffered multiple wounds.  “All [the bullets] were intact.  This is important in a forensic context.  When a bullet strikes another place it comes into the body deformed.  If it directly comes into the body, the bullet is all intact.”

He added that all but one of the bullets retrieved from the bodies came from 9mm rounds.  Of the other round, he said: “It was the first time we have seen this kind of material used in firearms.  It was just a container including many types of pellets usually used in shotguns.  It penetrated the head region in the temple and we found it intact in the brain.”

Excerpt from Robert Booth, Harriet Sherwood, and Justin Vela, “Gaza Flotilla Attack: Autopsies Reveal Intensity of Israeli Military Force” (Guardian, 4 June 2010):

. . . The results also reveal how close the fighting was.  Dr Haluk Ince, chair of Turkey’s council of forensic medicine (ATK), said: “Approximately 20cm away was the closest.  In only one case was there only one entrance wound.  The other eight have multiple entrance wounds.  [The man killed by a single shot] was shot just in the middle of the forehead with a distant shot.” . . .

The nine victims

Cengiz Alquyz, 42
Four gunshot wounds: back of head, right side of face, back, left leg

Ibrahim Bilgen, 60
Four gunshot wounds: right chest, back, right hip, right temple

Cegdet Kiliclar, 38
One gunshot wound: middle of forehead

Furkan Dogan, 19
Five gunshot wounds: nose, back, back of head, left leg, left ankle

Sahri Yaldiz
Four gunshot wounds: left chest, left leg, right leg twice

Aliheyder Bengi, 39
Six gunshot wounds: left chest, belly, right arm, right leg, left hand twice

Cetin Topcuoglu, 54
Three gunshot wounds: back of head, left side, right belly

Cengiz Songur, 47
One gunshot wound: front of neck

Necdet Yildirim, 32
Two gunshot wounds: right shoulder, left back

This video was released by Al Jazeera on 5 June 2010.  The text below the video and above the Guardian excerpts is an edited partial transcript of the video.

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