By Kalid Shamt – Berlin
A German MP has claimed that the number of people killed by Israel in its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was nineteen, and not nine as is now widely accepted. Ange Hogger MP was among those involved in the flotilla when it was attacked by Israel in international waters a week ago. The opposition MP said that many more people were wounded than Israel is prepared to admit in its attempt to downplay the severity of the assault. Her claim was made in a speech at the end of a mass rally organised in Berlin on Saturday afternoon to condemn the Israeli attack on the ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The Israeli attack was, she said, "Aggression, piracy and a crime similar to the siege [of Gaza], in violation of international law and human rights charters." The atmosphere on the Mavi Marmara was "one of war", during which the Israeli commandos not only shot and killed or wounded many passengers but also stole their personal belongings.
Ms. Hogger has demanded that Israel returns the hijacked ships to their owners and transfers the cargoes of aid supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.
At the same Berlin rally, the representative of "Jewish voice for a just peace in the Middle East", Ipresse Bernstein, said that the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla brought the case of the siege of Gaza to the centre of world attention. "What happened in international waters in the Mediterranean was a massacre against civilians to be added to the Israeli army's record of massacres in Gaza and other Palestinian territories," she said.
Ms. Bernstein went on to call for a campaign in Germany to boycott Israeli goods and an end to university and scientific exchanges with similar institutions in Israel. Not least, she demanded, the German government should stop exporting arms to Israel and end all military cooperation with the Zionist state.
The rally was attended by thousands of people in the Noy Colin Kroizberg neighbourhood of Berlin where large numbers of Arabs and Turks live. The participants carried Palestinian, Turkish and left-wing flags and called for freedom for Palestine, lifting the siege of Gaza and the removal of the wall snaking across the occupied West Bank. The demonstrators also denounced American financial and military aid for Israel.
The debate in Germany following Israel's attack on the convoy prompted the Israeli ambassador in Berlin, Yoram Ze'ev, to launch a sharp attack on two current MPs and a former parliamentarian who took part in the convoy. In a press statement, Ze'ev said that the attack on the convoy was "self-defence" because the convoy aimed to break the blockade on Gaza "as a prelude to smuggle weapons to Hamas".
In response, the president of the opposition Left Party, Klaus Ernst, attacked the ambassador, and called his statement unwanted interference in an internal German affair.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.