The New York Times reports on the clash at sea between pro-Palestinian activists and Israeli troops aboard a flotilla headed for Gaza:
The Israeli Defense Forces said more than 10 people were killed when naval personnel boarding the six ships in the aid convoy met with “live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.” The naval forces then “employed riot dispersal means, including live fire,” the military said in a statement.
Greta Berlin, a leader of the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement, speaking by telephone from Cyprus, rejected the military’s version.
“That is a lie,” she said, adding that it was inconceivable that the civilian passengers on board would have been “waiting up to fire on the Israeli military, with all its might.”
So, who's telling the truth? It's pretty unbelievable that rag-tag peace activists would attack professional IDF troops, right?
Wrong. Here’s a video, taken from the helicopters above the unruly scene, which offers compelling evidence that the soldiers were being attacked by the activists:
Ynet reports on what actually happened:
Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.
However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.
One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
The so-called peaceniks stole the soldiers’ pistols and began shooting. In self defense, the Israelis fired back, unfortunately killing at least ten. So the Hamas-loving peaceniks got the fight they wanted and fuel for the massive negative public relations campaign against the Israelis that they’ve long been supporting.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has canceled his scheduled trip to Washington, in order to return to Israel. This incident will continue to capture his and his nation's attention for the next long while. But it's too bad -- most of the press accounts are based in fiction.