IDF halts Gaza blockade activists, both sides pay high cost

Posted: May 31, 2010 by Jonathan Boyko in Activists, Anti-Israel, Gaza, IDF, International, Israel, Palestinians

You are probably familiar with the notorious Free Gaza organization – a group stating it’s goal of breaking blockade of Gaza by Egypt and Israel. In a most recent media stunt, the group gathered six ships and decided to sail towards Gaza. Despite several warnings by the Israeli authorities that  the ships would not be allowed to reach Gaza, organizers declared they will continue their mission to provide certain supplies to Gaza and the Hamas and – more importantly – to break the blockade, calling it a ‘‘blockade busting’ flotilla’. Last year, Free Gaza attempted to break blockade as well, though result was different. That time, Free Gaza claimed they were carrying close to 5,000 tons of supplies for Gazans. IDF soldiers, who successfully boarded the ships with little resistance, discovered just above 60 tons of equipment.

Another player is the IHH – İnsani Yardım Vakfı or The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief – was the main Turkish organizer of the operation. While Free Gaza people are mostly radical Left-wing activists, IHH is a different deal. According to reports by both Israeli intelligence and the CIA, the group has close ties to terror groups, including Hamas and the global jihad in general and Al-Qaeda in particular.

With Netanyahu willing to stop blockade-busters, the IDF prepared a plan, according to which Israeli Navy Forces will reach the flotilla in advance, surround it, board the vessels and bring those, together with the activists, to Israel. As Israeli Navy ships closed in on the offending vessels, IDF officers contacted the ships over the radio, saying flotilla’s entry into Gaza waters will be prevented. The IDF also told the Free Gaza activists their supplies would be transferred to Gaza, except those officially banned by Israel.
Free Gaza declined and declared they would keep on pressing forward, which was not surprising. From video clips in Arab media, it was clear the ‘peace activists’ were quite worked up and ready to fight, chanting anti-Semitic slogans.
IDF plan was simple: to avoid casualties, the soldiers would be sent aboard the ships armed with paintball rifles and a handgun as a backup in extreme cases. With Navy officers expecting little resistance, the soldiers were supposed to use the paint guns to mark rioters or cause some pain by shooting non-compliant protesters. What happened, however, was much different – and much more dangerous.

First reports about the takeover came from Qatar’s Al-Jazeera, notorious anti-Israeli network, who had reporters on the Turkish ship. The images shown by the network show Israeli rubber boats sailing side-by-side with the flotilla, soldiers on the ready.

First ship to be tackled was the Mavi Marmara. The intervention force arrived by Black Hawk helicopters, their mission being descending to the top deck by ropes, taking control of the upper decks and moving to lower ones. Officers on board the helicopters noticed about 20 protesters on the top deck, but decided to go ahead with the mission – again, expecting little resistance. First blurry images, however, portrayed situation different: images released by news channels show IDF soldiers descending and immediately being attacked by the protesters. First soldier to descend was attacked by five rioters, his paintball gun and handgun taken by the the rioting mob, which was subsequently used to shoot at IDF troops inside the ship.
Careful examination of first video images received also shows IDF soldier being stabbed by one of the ‘peace activists’.

In the meanwhile, reports of casualties mounted. First reports reported two fatalities and nearly 30 injuries. Throughout the day, numbers climbed, currently reaching between 12 and 19 fatalities and over 50 injuries – all of those from Mavi Marmara. Other ships showed passive resistance and were safely escorted into Israeli waters. Some reports said IDF was taking the boats into Haifa’s harbor – reports that subsequently were proven to be false.

In the meanwhile, rioters grabbed one of the ropes used by the troops and tied it to an antennae of the ship, in an apparent attempt to either stall or bring down the IAF helicopter. The plan failed, however, and more IDF troops descended on the deck. According to soldiers’ testimonies, each of the fifteen soldiers landing was grabbed by the ‘peace activists’ and severely beaten. Video, released by the IDF, shows troops landing and being attacked by the protesters. The video shows soldiers attempting to regroup and being attacked by Molotov cocktails as well as stun grenades.

At clip’s end, the Operations Officer is heard giving the order to use live fire.

Another clip released by the IDF shows what exactly happened to descending troops, them being assaulted and beaten in an attempt to murder the troops. One soldier is seen thrown to one of the lower decks, between 20 and 30 feet (6 to 10 meters) below. The protesters then go on to grab more soldiers and hit them with metal rods.

The final result, as of 20:00GMT, is 9 rioters dead and 7 IDF soldiers suffering injuries, ranging from light to moderate wounds. Close to 600 activists were taken off the boats, some of them already sent to their countries of origin. In total, Israeli hospitals treated 42 injured, 11 in serious condition, including two soldiers.

While during the raid some propagandists attempted to claim Israeli Palestinian leader Raed Salah – well-known for his fiery anti-Israel speeches, calling for violence – was injured in the riot, however, the rumor eventually proved to be not true.
Politicians and ‘Human Rights Activists’ around the world hurried to blame Israel for the loss of life. The United Nations, France, Sweden, European Union and others hurried to release condemnation of Israel, before any images of the fighting and assault of the soldiers were released. Turkey recalled its envoy from Israel.

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose regime murdered dozens of people after recent elections, called Israel ‘inhumane’.

  1. I think it is too early to reach conclusions. It is still unclear whether firearms should have been used to kill, rather than injure. Full investigation is likely to take several days.

    It is indeed clear that the rioters on Mavi Marmara ambushed the IDF soldiers. It is particularly evident as people on other ships did not riot and were taken off ship unscathed.

  2. Wouter says:

    I’ve read your report and the situation looks like an atempt to set-up the IDF.

  3. Maxim,

    As you are probably familiar by now, according to int’l law, Israel has a right to inspect a vessel clearly stating it is headed to breach a maritime blockade. As the sail was organized by an organization with known ties to terror groups, such as Hamas and Al-Qaeda, int’l law allows Israel to tackle the vessel and inspect its contents.

  4. Maxim den Dekker says:

    Those vessels are being attacked while they are in international waters.
    The IDF are not better that those Somalian pirates

  5. Right… So… Who’s hitting the soldiers?

  6. Tala says:

    you story is full of lies, it was crystal clear that its an aid vessel and the ppl on board were journalists, humanitarian activists and parliamentarians.

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