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10 died after pre-planned violence against Israeli soldiers attempting to intercept flotilla peacefully
31 May, 2010
Attacks on Israeli forces boarding the Marmara (Ph
Some of the weapons used by the “peaceful demonstr
Israel Navy warned and requested the flotilla to redirect to the Ashdod port.
Six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip were intercepted by the Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) naval forces, early this morning. This happened after numerous warnings by the Israeli Navy issued prior to the action, but were bluntly refused. The intended peaceful takeover of the ship by IDF soldiers was countered by extreme violence of the organizers and this lead to ten people getting killed.
where they would be able to unload their aid material, which, after security inspections, would be transferred to Gaza over land.
The ships refused again. The Israelis then sent airborne commandos to take the vessels over peacefully. The troops were equipped with paintball guns only, usually used against light violence in demonstrations, and with their live weapons on their back. Clearly, the Israelis still believed that the flotilla carried law-abiding political activists, and were prepared for light conflict only.
It was recorded that the captain of the flagship of the flotilla called all the passengers on board to immediately sit back on their places to avoid possible injuries. But during the boarding some 60 to 80 demonstrators onboard the Mavi Marmara ship attacked the IDF naval personnel , with light weaponry at first, including knives, clubs and iron rods, and later also with live fire. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose. Had the captain's instruction been respected by the "peaceful demonstrators", no human life would have been spent.
Of course, the paintballs were ineffective against attacks with iron rods & knives, but the commandos stuck to instructions to take over the ship without casualties and did not use their guns for some ten minutes, IDF commanders said later. The permission to use live weapons in self-defense was given only when four soldiers were already wounded, two of them severely, and several soldiers had jumped into the sea from the ship to save themselves from being lynched on board.
Then only, did the commanders give permission, to use, when absolutely necessary to save their lives, stronger riot dispersal means, followed by live fire. In the uncontrolled battlefield of long hand to hand fight, ten violent demonstrators got killed.
Later update on injuries and casualties counted a total of seven soldiers wounded - three lightly, two moderately, and two initially in critical condition, one with a broken skull, one with a gun wound in the stomach. Among the violent activists, there were ten casualties and 31 wounded.
Pistols found on flotilla activists: According to reports from sea, on board of the Marmara IDF forces apprehended two violent activists holding pistols with emptied magazines.
This afternoon the ships were directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces performed security checks in order to identify the people leaving the ships.
Who were on the ships?
The flotilla was supposed to bring human rights activists and humanitarian aid to Gaza. Known pro-Palestinian leftist public figures and European Parliament members were on the list of the participants. Pro-Israel advocacy groups had warned for a long time that open Hamas supporters shouldn't be considered peaceful demonstrators, and the main organizers, the Turkish IHH organization, which sent 400 people to the mission, had strong ties with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. The Israeli diplomatic and military establishment seemed to ignore these warnings and was prepared for light physical resistance only on those ships.
The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.
IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all possible actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.
Israel Navy warned flotilla that Gaza region is closed to maritime traffic
The Israel Navy broadcasted and sent to the ships by loud-speakers several times this pre-attack warning: "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." The responses were curses, obscenities and finally: "Negative, negative."
As Defence Minister Ehud Barak summarized the tragic event: "The loss of human lives is deeply regrettable, but the full responsibility for it lies with the organizers who tried to break the naval blockade and initiated extreme violence. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel supplies all humanitarian needs for the population. However, all humanitarian supply coming from other countries has been conveyed to Gaza after proper security check. After suffering ten thousand rocket attacks on her civil population, Israel has the right to maintain a naval blockade and check all supply directed to Hamas in Gaza."
Unfortunately, the tragic event provoked by the Turkey-backed organizers does endanger the re-start of the peace talks; the carefully prepared proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And this can be the real goal of the organizers.