JERUSALEM — Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, killing at least 10 passengers in a predawn raid that sets off worldwide condemnation and a diplomatic crisis. Israel said the forces encountered unexpected resistance as they boarded the vessels. Dozens of passengers and at least five Israeli soldiers were wounded in the confrontation in international waters.
The BBC has published a video with a news report, a video with a statement from Israel’s deputy foreign minister and an interview with Audrey Bromse of the Free Gaza Movement.
Gene adds: Via Z Word, here’s video of a “peace activist” stabbing an IDF soldier on one of the ships.
Gene adds: Ron Ben-Yishai at Ynet reports:
It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.
The second error was that commanders did not address seriously enough the fact that a group of men were expecting the soldiers on the top deck. Had they addressed this more seriously, they may have hurled tear-gas grenades and smoke grenades from the helicopter to create a screen that would have enabled them to carry out their mission, without the fighters falling right into the hands of the rioters, who severely assaulted them.
Ben-Yishai also reports that Israeli commandos held off firing live ammunition until they were under attack.
Israeli officer: “Mavi Marmara, you are approaching an area of hostilities which is under a naval blockade. The Gaza area coastal region and Gaza harbor are closed to all maritime traffic. The Israeli government supports delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and invites you to enter the Ashdod port. Delivery of supplies in accordance with the authorities’ regulations will be through the formal land crossings and under your observation, after which you can return to your home ports on the vessels on which you have arrived.”
Response: “Negative, negative.”
Gene adds: Rappelling onto the ship from a helicopter was probably a foolish tactic, but this video makes clear who used violence first:
Gene adds: A closer look at the “activists” in action before Israeli soldiers opened fire:
Gene adds: From an Al Jazeera report on some of the flotilla “activists” who were clearly eager for a confrontation.