Posts Tagged ‘IDF’s Mavi Marmara Takeover’

Turkish ‘peace activists’ attempted to further humiliate Israeli ‘Flotilla 13’ soldiers, by underscoring that the soldiers felt threatened and feared for their lives:

One of the activists, who identified himself as Mahir Tan, said, "The three Israeli commandoes were helpless in our hands, the lives of these children were at our discretion."

"As a former commando I could have used the weapon in a skilled manner, but because we were the defenders of the ship, we didn’t do it. I took the gun, unloaded it and kept it as proof to Israel’s villainy – and that they intended to kill me," he added.

"They looked at us, and thought we were about to kill them, but then we let them go," he said.

(Ynet)

KENNETH O’KEEFE, AN activist on board the ship – identified by the IDF as having terror ties – then went on to make a statement worth mentioning:

"I took one of their guns, and another activist grabbed him. He had a 9mm gun. We didn’t use the weapons against the Israeli soldiers. I unloaded the magazine and took out the bullets – we didn’t come here to fight," he said.

It is interesting to note that O’Keefe is a former marine and has experience with firearms. It is interesting that he mentioned the caliber of the firearm, as IDF claimed the troops used ammunition different from the standard 9mm bullets. With this particular statement, O’Keefe attempts to promote his own version of events, by claiming the Israelis lied about the arms used on the ship.

Turksih Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan criticized release of the images released by the IHH, showing injured IDF soldiers, claiming the photographs harm Turkey’s image, while Israeli authorities released a statement saying the images proved that some soldiers were kidnapped by the rioters on board Mavi Marmara. However, he went on and continued verbal attack on Israel, stating today that the Jewish state should ‘put an end to the occupation of Arab lands’. Now that we know Erdogan aligns himself tightly with terror groups such as Hamas, we can only imagine that by ‘Arab lands’ he means same as they do – a ‘Palestine’ from Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Erdogan made the statements during joint press conference with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, further pitching himself against the Western world. Assad himself made steps to kiss Erdogan’s rear end, saying Syria is ‘about actions’. Hopefully for himself, Erdogan remembers that in past conflicts with Israel, Syria promised much but did little, costing Egypt the Sinai Peninsula and effectively helping Jordan lose control of the West Bank.

Advertisements

IDF's 'Flotilla 13' soldier attacked and dragged by the IHH Mere two days after Israeli Defense Forces boarded the ‘Freedom Flotilla’, where they were beaten, stabbed, clubbed and shot at, Turkish ‘Palestinian rights group’ IHH thanked Israel for the ‘publicity’:

"We thank Israel for its raid," said Omar Faruk, a member of the organization’s directorate. "We’ve become famous."

(Ynet)

I believe this quote precisely point to the insanity of the ‘activists’, who hail a victory in propaganda battle, over mourning their loss.

On the flip side, however, Israel has much to thank IHH for. As few times before, IHH’s attempt to murder IDF troops on board Mavi Marmara brought all Israelis together in their vehement support for the IDF and their country, save for Israeli Palestinians and most radical Left wingers.

I spoke to a woman today, who in the past shared with me she voted for the extremist MERETZ party. This faction is advocating conceding as much as possible to the Palestinians. Her stance, however, surprised me:

“I am Left wing and everything, but I understand we have to defend our country.”

Hers is an expression of feeling familiar to many Israelis today. With the international community viciously attacking the Jewish state and relentlessly denying it any opportunity to effectively defend itself, the Israelis feel at the brink. Many – amongst themselves – restore memories of the World War II, where peoples of Europe were slaughtered, and powerful nations stood on the sidelines.

But with fear comes strength. As during the 2008-9 operation Cast Lead, the 1982 Peace of Galilee and 1967 Six Days War, Israelis feel protective of their country and of their nation. Unlike any other people, for thousands of years Jews were the homeless person, deprived of own home. Today, more Israelis than ever stand on guard to defend homeland. And that is the greatest gift no one but the IHH – and the likes – could give the Jewish nation.

There are no supermen in the Israeli Defense Forces. These are regular men, well-trained and well-prepared, for the situations they were taught to deal with. It seems ‘Flotilla 13’ troops acted appropriately when in danger of life, although we are yet to get all the information on what happened aboard the ship. Few things are clear, though:

  • Despite claims by the radicals inhabiting the boat that IDF troops fired shots before touching down on the boat, none of them could produce evidence of such, despite Al-Jazeera’s journalists’ presence on board, recording throughout the night.
  • It is clear soldiers could not have shot their weapons as soon as they touched the top decks, as they were immediately grabbed, beaten, had their weapons stolen and some thrown overboard – despite claims to contrary by the radical Left-wing activists on board.
  • ‘Peace activists’ were armed by pipes, rods, chains, knives, ready to attack the incoming troops. Injuries sustained by the ‘Flotilla 13’ troops – and by some of the attackers – point to extensive use of sharp attack objects.

As the international community attacks Israel over the nine fatalities on board the Mavi Marmara, no one seems to ask if any of the deaths occurred due to Turks’ use of IDF’s firearms. Two ‘F13’ soldiers were wounded by gunshots from handguns taken off the soldiers by the rioters, yet each firearms contains at the very least six bullets. It is possible some of the shots taken at the servicemen hit the rioters.

 

ISRAEL COULD NOT have won the ordeal. Consider the situation: militarily-speaking, there are few ways to stop six ships at sea, besides using infantry in a takeover. You can ram them, you can shoot them, you can block their way and let them ram you. In any of those cases, the protesters and the press would accuse Israel of interfering with a humanitarian mission.

The IDF could attempt a takeover in Gaza’s blockaded territorial waters. The move would be unnecessary, as Israel did have the right to act in international waters in this instance, but would silence a few critics. The option, however, would put the IDF in further danger, within reach of Hamas’ anti-ship and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as small boats with armed Hamas fighters onboard. Such a blockade-imposing mission could turn into an armed confrontation with many more casualties to both sides. This would turn out to be much worse a nightmare than what Israel already has on its hands.

Then Israel could allow the ships into Gaza. The move – while sparing immediate negative press – would be hailed as a victory for the radical flotilla organizers, as well as their Hamas patrons. Feeling their victory, notorious Free Gaza movement would organize additional blockade-busting flotillas – many more, with many more ships and activists on board. This would allow Hamas and its supporters to smuggle dozens of tons of weaponry, such as rockets, mortars and other ammunition. For Israel, blocking such stream of weapons among dozens of ships would be all but impossible. Future raids could include armed firefights with Hamas men on such vessels, resulting in severe losses.

So Israel couldn’t win. Whatever path the Jewish state would take, critics would find a way to severely criticize it. Taking above scenarios into consideration, IDF’s command decided to go for a proven tactic, used last year – board the ships with ‘Flotilla 13’ fighters, equipped with pacifying, non-lethal arms.

The decision was made to lower the soldiers off helicopters onto the ships as an intimidation technique – soldiers rappelling off helicopters would keep potential rioters away, went the logic.

The plan was presented to the political echelon, which approved it. And this is where it went wrong.

The commanders on the ground had nowhere to hurry – with 70 more miles to go to reach Gaza, the officers had hours to gather intelligence and reconsider the situation. Helicopters approaching Mavi Marmara noticed dozens of civilians on the top deck and had the opportunity to bug out and return later – or stay and gather intelligence. Snipers could be located on the helicopters and the rubber boats, to observe the ships using night vision and thermal equipment. Those would notice the ‘peace activists’ preparing gas masks, vests, metal rods, chains, knives and other assault equipment.

On one hand, the IDF commanders on the ground – or water – desired to keep the element of surprise. The helicopters delivering troops were not turned back when it was revealed top deck is not free, as to not give up the element of surprise and aggressiveness. The soldiers did not deploy tear gas and stun grenades prior to landing, as to not anger the protesters. However, the IDF forgot the main feature of such a tactic – surprise itself. Hostile elements cannot be taken by surprise if they see IDF boats cruising alongside for long minutes – if not hours. If the IDF command wanted to make the assault a surprise – the helicopters should have appeared out of the black, with no prior notice. Only then would the soldiers stand a chance, have the opportunity to regroup, work methodically and clear the boat of hostiles. Yet, the high-ranking officers were too cocky to imagine soldiers’ lives could be in jeopardy. Whoever sat at that planning table, and on the other side of the screens forgot the army spirit and brought disgrace upon his uniform.

After the fact, it is easy to point out the mistakes. At the time, the command did what it thought was right, and it seems soldiers did no wrong while defending their lives. Yet, as grave mistakes were made, here are some future tips for the ‘cocky officers’ planning further takeovers of such vessels:

  • Do not assume. Assumptions is what will cost you a battle and a war.
  • If you want to surprise – do so. If you want a surprise attack – come out of the blue, fast, and finish the mission in record time. Speed is essential.
  • Every person could carry a knife on his belt and a metal rod in his hand. In order to ensure safe deployment of soldiers in highly-populated areas, it is essential to deploy smoke or CS gas in order to prevent direct attack on the soldiers.
  • Sending soldiers poor-equipped would bring disaster. Each soldiers must have stun grenades, CS grenades or Stinger grenades on his body to deploy those in case of danger.
  • Armed units should be on stand-by within three minutes of arrival to the scene. It is enough time to get quick, yet far enough to keep the soldiers from using lethal force unnecessary.
  • Snipers are essential during intelligence-gathering phase and operational phase. Two snipers in a small rubber boat located at a distance of under a mile could provide necessary observation and should intervene in extreme cases of use of lethal force against the troops.
  • It is about time soldiers deployed would carry an on-helmet or an on-weapon cameras. Feeds from those could be received directly by the command, giving it a full picture. Those could also be used to fight off media-lynching of the troops.
  • Having IDF cameramen is crucial: each helicopter delivering troops should have an IDF cameraman joining in. Another option: mount cameras on the bottom of the deploying aircraft, allowing recording of the deployment process.

There is little left to say about the failed operation. The soldiers fought brave, facing mob doing their best to murder them. Yet, they were the casualty of poor planning, poor intelligence and poor execution. While the decision to block the flotilla was a correct one, the approval process lacked on every step of the way – military and political. One thing is clear: with another ship – Rachel Corrie – soon to arrive in the region, the IDF would have to rethink its tactics. Let’s hope they will make the correct decisions this time.

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’.