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article imageSmuggled footage of raid on Mavi Marmara to be revealed Thursday

By Stephanie Dearing     Jun 10, 2010 in World
New York - American filmmaker and peace activist Iara Lee managed to smuggle about an hour's worth of documentation of the Israeali raid on the Mavi Marmara back to the United States.
Lee will be releasing her footage Thursday during a press conference with the United Nations. Smuggled out, the footage has never been seen before, but Lee gave the footage to Democracy Now for an exclusive that aired Thursday morning. Democracy Now showed portions of the footage while interviewing Lee about her experience. Lee had accompanied the flotilla aiming to break Isreal's blockade of Gaza in order to document the peace mission.
The footage is chilling, and it will be shown in its entirety during the press conference. It is not known if the footage will be widely available after the conference. In a portion broadcast by Democracy Now, viewers can see people caring for those who were shot. In one clip, a woman informs the Israeli navy that Mavi Marmara is full of unarmed civilians trying to take care of injured people. The woman clearly told Isreal they needed assistance.
At the press conference to take place Thursday at 4 pm, est., Lee will give a statement and answer questions from the press. From the clips shown by Democracy Now, Lee's footage appears to back up the Turkish autopsies that showed five of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara were shot at close range from behind. Nine Turkish men died in the raid.
After Lee was released by Israel and back home in the United States, she wrote an opinion article that was published in the San Fransisco Chronicle, and posted on the Cultures of Resistance website. In that article, Lee said prior to setting sail to Gaza the aid ships had been inspected in Turkey by NATO and Turkey, and no weapons ahd been found. Lee emphasized the fact that Israel had alternatives open to it regarding the aid ships, but "Instead, the Israeli military launched a nighttime assault with heavily armed commandos. Under attack, some passengers skirmished with the boarding soldiers using broomsticks and other items at hand. The commandos and navy soldiers shot and killed at least nine civilians and seriously injured dozens more. Others are still missing. The final death toll has yet to be determined." Lee called Israel's actions illegal, saying the civilians aboard the aid ships had been kidnapped by Israel.
Reporters for the Guardian, Robert Booth and Harriet Sherwood wrote "The autopsy results released today by the Turkish authorities after the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla reveal in chilling detail the intensity of the military force unleashed on the multinational convoy.
Each of the nine victims on the Mavi Marmara in international waters off the coast of Israel in the early hours of Monday morning was shot at least once and some five or six times with 9mm rounds.
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.""
Iran has said it will send two ships full of humanitarian aid to Gaza by the end of this week, but there has not yet been further confirmation that Iran will undertake the venture.
A 2009 United Nations report on Israels' blockade of Gaza noted Israel refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission. The report describes the blockade as "... measures such as restrictions on the goods that can be imported into Gaza and the closure of border crossings for people, goods and services, sometimes for days, including cuts in the provision of fuel and electricity. Gaza’s economy is further severely affected by the reduction of the fishing zone open to Palestinian fishermen and the establishment of a buffer zone along the border between Gaza and Israel, which reduces the land available for agriculture and industry. In addition to creating an emergency situation, the blockade has significantly weakened the capacities of the population and of the health, water and other public sectors to respond to the emergency created by the military operations."
Lee is the founder and executive director of Cultures of Resistance. Her Facebook profile lists her interests as "hardcore trekking, off the beaten-path travelling, anti-war filmmaking."
In 2001, Lee made a movie about gender apartheid in Afghanistan in her short film, Beneath the Bourqa, Afghanistan.
More about Iara lee, Mavi marmara, Documentation, Press conference, United Nations
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