The Israelis who rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara were confronted by men with knives, clubs, and other potentially fatal implements. One member of the IDF was thrown overboard and is now suffering from severe brain damage. Reports about weapons carried by the Israeli Defense Force troops have been conflcting. It is known that some of the victims were shot with 9 mm rounds, but no evidence has been presented as to who fired them. A Voice of America account of the raid embedded a video that VOA writers captioned: "Video image released by Turkish Aid group IHH … purports to show Israeli soldiers aiming a gun on the deck of a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to Gaza." (Emphasis added.)
Another report in the British Guardian newspaper suggested a less lethal Israeli response: "Alex Harrison, a Free Gaza activist who was on the smaller Challenger yacht, which was crewed mainly by women, said the Israelis used rubber bullets, sound bombs and tasers against them."
Even if Israeli forces were armed (which is a normal condition for members of any military or police force) it is more than likely that being surrounded and outnumbered by hostile attackers, an armed response in self defense may have been necessary — or at least perceived to have been necessary.
Most suspicious about the supposed “peaceful” Flotilla was the fact that the ships were offered the opportunity to “send the supplies they were carrying to Gaza overland, joining the tons of supplies that flow to Gaza daily,” but rejected that offer, according to the Editorialist at the Washington Times.
The event sparked the traditional reaction to any act committed by Israel, one of derision and to be frank, anti-Semitism. Initially, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, asserted that the Israeli operation was illegal, despite the truth that maritime law allows for the routine stop of suspicious vessels and that Israel has had to intercept various “blockade runners” headed to Gaza.
What the Commissioner failed to address was the presence of IHH, an Istanbul-based Islamic “charity group” whose Turkish acronym stands for the “Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief” and Free Gaza members. Both groups are notorious for their connections to terrorism, specifically to Hamas.
Back in 1997, Turkish security forces were prompted to investigate the IHH and discovered that the so-called “human rights group” had purchased weapons and engaged in plots to embark on jihadist activities. In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies indicated that Turkey was aware of IHH’s connections to terrorism for at least a decade.
For this very reason, Cyprus refused to allow IHH ships to dock in its port because, as the Ministry of Communications in Cyprus explained, Cyprus did not wish to “engage in IHH’s operations.”
In 2001, French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere testified that the IHH was involved in the plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport on New Year's Day in 2000.
Free Gaza also purports to be “a human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years.” The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center asserts, however, that Free Gaza has “associated themselves with the Hamas administration.” Proud members of Free Gaza include Weather Underground terrorist founders William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, radical leader of Code Pink. (You may recall that Ayers and President Obama are very close associates; Ayers even held a fundraiser for Obama in his own home.)
Steve Emerson of The Investigative Project on Terrorism indicated that on board the flotilla were more than 100 members of various Muslim Brotherhood chapters, of whom 20 taped al Qaeda style “martyr” videos.
Arab media reports stated that Flotilla participants were preparing wills on ship in the event that they would face martyrdom. They were allegedly determined to break the blockade or face death. The Middle East Media Research Institute reported that the head of the Turkish ship declared to a Gaza-based Hamas leader: “We will not allow the Zionists to come near us, and we will wage resistance against them.”
Despite the facts surrounding the incident, Israel continues to face harsh criticism from nations across the world. French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that he was “deeply shocked at the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation” and condemned Israel for it’s “disproportionate use of force,” as if the IDF were the ones with the clubs and knives beating men while they lay defenseless on the ground of the ship, as can be seen in this video below. The Turkish Prime Minister accused Israel of a “bloody massacre” and alleged that Israel violated International Law.
American communists and socialists have engaged in anti-Israel rallies since the Flotilla incident and have planned several more for the remainder of the week. The “peaceful” marchers in these rallies have been seen with signs that bear swastikas.
Americans should ponder the potential impact of the Flotilla incident. Even Americans who affirm the non-interventionist U.S. foreign policy advocated by America's founders must recognize Israel's right, as a sovereign state, to defend its borders. Now, however, this pro-Western nation is being demonized by the international community, including many sources within the Untied States.
This article has been modified from the original to reflect the fact that there are conflicting accounts regarding the actions that took place abroad the flotilla ships.
Photo: Israelis demonstrate in support of Israel, following the “Freedom Flotilla” deaths off Gaza, in the southern city of Ashkelon, Israel, on June 1, 2010: AP Images