Yes, that's spin, but it's no less spin than the U.S. and Israeli press have been putting on their their version of the atrocities that Israel has been committing against the Palestinian people over the last six decades. Today's incident is beyond the pale though, and should be a wake-up call to the world.
The basic facts, as commonly reported so far, are as this: A Gibraltar-registered private vessel named Dignity, with a CNN correspondent on board, was attempting to ferry medical supplies and 16 passengers -- physicians from Britain, Germany and Cyprus, along with human rights activists, including former U.S. House Representative from Georgia and U.S. Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney to Gaza to perform humanitarian aid. The CNN correspondent, Karl Penhaul, reports that the Dignity was shadowed by Israeli military patrol boats without contact for approximately half an hour.
After that time, and while the Dignity was still in international waters, one of the Israeli patrol boat rammed the Dignity, apparently attempting to sink her. McKinney stated that the patrol boat rammed the Dignity three times. The captain of the Dignity told Penhold he received no warning, which the Israeli are denying, as are they denying that they intended to ram the boat. (Ed.: Nonetheless, they apparently did not bother to offer any help of assistance either, which is quite possibly against a number of international maritime regulations.)
The Dignity managed to escape into Lebanese waters and to reach the Lebanese port city of Tyre, with severe damage to the port side of the craft and with her roof collapsed. There were no reports of causalities.
Ms. McKinney is no longer a member of Congress, but were she, it still would not have been the first time that the Israeli government had attempted to murder U.S. citizens or even U.S. federal employees. In 1967, the Israeli air force and navy attacked and attempted to sink the U.S.S. Liberty, while she was in international waters, apparently because she was accidentally in a position to expose Israel's staging to attack Egypt prior to the supposed justification for their doing so in the Six-Day War.
As with the Dignity, Israel claimed the attack on the Liberty was a mistake, even though the Liberty was clearly flying, not one but, three U.S. flags. The Liberty escaped under its own power and only received help from a fellow U.S. navy vessel the next day, which was too late for many. Thirty-four men died and 170 crew members were killed.
Admiral John McCain Sr. was part of the team investigating the incident, which was closed in just over week, without taking a single statement from a single Israeli. Indeed, very few men from Liberty were even interviewed. The U.S. government's official position was officially a rubber stamp of the Israeli position -- that it was an accident. In the intervening years though, memos and affidavits have surfaced showing that this was whitewash. Nonetheless, John McCain Jr. has on many occasions during his years in the Senate fought the efforts the U.S.S. Liberty survivors as they have, for over forty years now, plead for justice and recognition from their own government -- which might explain some of his failure at the polls this past fall.