The big news this morning is that a clash aboard a ship trying to run the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza has left at least ten (the Jerusalem Post is reporting fifteen) people dead and numerous others wounded. The reports I’ve seen indicate that Israeli navy commandos boarded the ship to take it to Ashdod, where it would be inspected and its cargo–if actually humanitarian supplies, as advertised, rather than weapons–sent on to Gaza. According to Ha’aretz:
The commandos, who intercepted the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara after it ignored orders to turn back, said they encountered violent resistance from activists armed with sticks and knives. According to the soldiers, the activists threw one of their comrades from the upper deck to the lower after they boarded.
An Israeli military spokesman said some of the commandos were equipped with paintball guns but the non-lethal weapons were not enough against activists who charged in with batons.
“They had pistols with live ammunition as back-up, to defend themselves,” he said.
One of the commandos told reporters he descended by rope from a helicopter onto one of the six ships in the convoy and was immediately attacked by a group of people waiting for them.
“They beat us with metal sticks and knives,” he said. “There was live fire at some point against us.”
The reference to paintball guns may seem odd, but apparently the Israelis expected that the passengers on this ship, like those of the other eight ships of the “Gaza flotilla,” to be actual peace activists. Instead, they turned out to be mostly extremists from the terrorist-supporting Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which has been linked to Hamas and other Islamic terror groups. Those on the Mavi Marmara were apparently lying in wait, hoping to get some Israeli scalps, and if any of their people were hurt in the process, it would result in a propaganda coup.
The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit, certainly didn’t hesitate to use the incident that way at the beginning of the WCC’s “World Week for Israeli Capitulation Peace in Palestine and Israel”:
The call to be peacemakers is a holy call. This year the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI) is once more timely … with people seeking to show the need for humanitarian aid going to Gaza being killed this morning … This year again we need even more than before to point to how settlements and occupation are real obstacles to a just peace. All parties must stop violence and find the way forward.
The mainline-supported U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation also weighed in:
In an international act of piracy and murder in international waters, the Israeli navy intercepted, boarded, and opened fire on humanitarian activists on a flotilla of ships attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian Gaza Strip.
According to news reports, Israeli commandos killed as many as 19 humanitarian activists on board one ship, and have abducted all 700 passengers on board the six boats composing the flotilla who are in the process of being sent against their will to Israel for arrest and/or deportation.
Notice what’s missing from these two responses? They’ll be typical, I’m sure, of the mainline reaction to these events. More to come.
UPDATE: Footage of the Mavi Marmara. The figures coming down a rope are the commandos, who are being let down from a helicopter. You can clearly see the unprovoked attack by the ship’s passengers on the commandos.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention before that the USCEIO’s hysteria over the incident being in international waters is bogus. CAMERA is on the case:
[A]ccording to the San Remo Manual, it is permissible under rule 67(a) to attack neutral vessels on the high seas when the vessels “are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture.”