At least 10 Gaza blockade runners killed in seaborne clash (updated)

Thomas Lifson
News dispatches from Reuters and AP provide first details of an encounter between Israeli forces and the blockade runners attempting to bring "relief supplies" to the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza, which both Israel and Egypt have agreed to isolate from arms re-supply. The Israelis sought to inspect the cargo and and prevent the ships landing. Reuters:

Israeli commandos who raided a Gaza aid ship on Monday were set upon by activists with knives and clubs and some troops jumped overboard to save themselves, according to an Israeli account.

Israel said commandos opened fire in self-defence and 10 activists were killed and seven troops wounded. With Israel jamming signals and censoring media, there was little independent reporting of the events at sea.

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."

At this point, Israel has imposed radio jamming and censorship, so further details may take some time in arriving, and no doubt will be disputed by the anti-Israel groups always spoiling for an opportunity to portray the only democracy in the Middle East as brutal and repressive.

Turkey, long one of Israel's few friends in the Muslim world,  has reacted sharply, according to another Reuters dispatch:


Turkey, which had supported the convoy, cancelled three planned joint military exercises with Israel, and Ankara said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would cut short an official visit to Latin America to return home.

"Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Television images from Ankara, whose ties with Israel had already soured somewhat since last year following Turkish criticism of Israel, showed dozens of people gathered outside Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy's residence in Turkey's capital.

In a second dispatch we learn:

Turkey cancelled joint military exercises with Israel and called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council after pro-Palestinian activists were killed when Israeli marines boarded aid ships bound for Gaza.

With several Turks reported to be among the dead, thousands of people converged on Taksim Square in downtown Istanbul to voice anger at Israel's use of force and pray for the dead.

It is far too soon to have any perspective, but it seems shocking that well-trained military troops could be overwhelmed so quickly. My guess is that the troops were ordered to refrain from violence, and that the forces awaiting them were well-trained in tactics to overcome an intervention as cloaked in nonviolence as Israel no doubt wanted this show of force to be. It may well be that some members of the party which resisted the Isarelis were ion a suicide mission - bent on provoking fatal violence. This would hardly be a new tactic in the Palestinian cause.

Update:

Prime Minister Netanyahu has cancelled his scheduled talk tomorrow with President Obama, and is returning home from Canada, shortening his visit there. His office in Jerusalem affirms his full support of the military and its action.

AT contrbutor Victor Sharpe emails the following points:

1. A state of armed conflict exists between Israel and the Hamas regime controlling Gaza. The Hamas terrorists have launched over 12,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, and is presently smuggling in Iranian arms and military supplies into Gaza, by land and sea, in order to fortify its positions and continue its attacks.

2. Under international law, Israel has the right to protect the lives of its civilians from Hamas attacks, and, consequently, has undertaken measures to defend itself, including the imposition of a maritime blockade to curb Hamas rearmament. Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no vessels can enter the blockaded area.

3. In line with Israel's obligations under international law, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned repeatedly that a maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza and were given due notice of its exact coordinates.

4. Israel repeatedly offered the flotilla organizers to land in the port of Ashdod, and to transfer their aid to Gaza through the existing overland crossings, in accordance with established procedures. Thousands of tons of humanitarian supplies are allowed in by Israel through the land crossings. The flotilla organizers rejected this offer, stating clearly that "this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege." (Greta Berlin, AFP, 27May10).

5. While the organizers claim to have humanitarian concern for the residents of Gaza they did not have similar concerns for the fate of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and when asked, refused to even make a public call to allow him to be visited by the Red Cross. Shalit has languished in a Gazan dungeon for over three years.

6. When it became clear that the protest flotilla intended to violate the blockade despite repeated warnings, Israeli Naval personnel boarded the vessels of the flotilla, and redirected them to Ashdod.

7. Given the large number of vessels participating in the flotilla, there was an operational need to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from the area of the blockade.

8. The intention of the flotilla participants to resist Israeli Naval personnel was made clear in numerous television interviews on 30 May given by the head of the IHH, Bulent Yildirim on board the Mavi Marmara (as he held a year-old infant in his arms, in what he called a "message" to any Israelis planning to act against the flotilla).

9. The Israeli Navy was met with violent opposition, two pistols were found in the hands of protesters, and over a dozen Israeli personnel were hospitalized, some in critical condition. The Navy described being met by a "lynching" party.

9. In Ashdod, the flotilla's cargo will be off-loaded and the humanitarian items will be transferred overland to Gaza in accordance with standard operating procedures. The participants of the flotilla will be subjected to immigration procedures applicable in cases of attempted illegal entry.

Update: Video segment shows the well-organized attack on the boarding party, which evidently expected more peaceful behavior.



Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs provides the video, and much more here.
 
Also via Atlas Shrugs, this from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
During the boarding of the Marmara ship, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally two of the weapons used were grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces first employed riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injuries. In addition, five naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers were seriously wounded and the remainder sustained moderate injuries. All of the injured parties, Israelis and foreigners, are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.


News dispatches from Reuters and AP provide first details of an encounter between Israeli forces and the blockade runners attempting to bring "relief supplies" to the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza, which both Israel and Egypt have agreed to isolate from arms re-supply. The Israelis sought to inspect the cargo and and prevent the ships landing. Reuters:

Israeli commandos who raided a Gaza aid ship on Monday were set upon by activists with knives and clubs and some troops jumped overboard to save themselves, according to an Israeli account.

Israel said commandos opened fire in self-defence and 10 activists were killed and seven troops wounded. With Israel jamming signals and censoring media, there was little independent reporting of the events at sea.

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."

At this point, Israel has imposed radio jamming and censorship, so further details may take some time in arriving, and no doubt will be disputed by the anti-Israel groups always spoiling for an opportunity to portray the only democracy in the Middle East as brutal and repressive.

Turkey, long one of Israel's few friends in the Muslim world,  has reacted sharply, according to another Reuters dispatch:


Turkey, which had supported the convoy, cancelled three planned joint military exercises with Israel, and Ankara said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would cut short an official visit to Latin America to return home.

"Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Television images from Ankara, whose ties with Israel had already soured somewhat since last year following Turkish criticism of Israel, showed dozens of people gathered outside Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy's residence in Turkey's capital.

In a second dispatch we learn:

Turkey cancelled joint military exercises with Israel and called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council after pro-Palestinian activists were killed when Israeli marines boarded aid ships bound for Gaza.

With several Turks reported to be among the dead, thousands of people converged on Taksim Square in downtown Istanbul to voice anger at Israel's use of force and pray for the dead.

It is far too soon to have any perspective, but it seems shocking that well-trained military troops could be overwhelmed so quickly. My guess is that the troops were ordered to refrain from violence, and that the forces awaiting them were well-trained in tactics to overcome an intervention as cloaked in nonviolence as Israel no doubt wanted this show of force to be. It may well be that some members of the party which resisted the Isarelis were ion a suicide mission - bent on provoking fatal violence. This would hardly be a new tactic in the Palestinian cause.

Update:

Prime Minister Netanyahu has cancelled his scheduled talk tomorrow with President Obama, and is returning home from Canada, shortening his visit there. His office in Jerusalem affirms his full support of the military and its action.

AT contrbutor Victor Sharpe emails the following points:

1. A state of armed conflict exists between Israel and the Hamas regime controlling Gaza. The Hamas terrorists have launched over 12,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, and is presently smuggling in Iranian arms and military supplies into Gaza, by land and sea, in order to fortify its positions and continue its attacks.

2. Under international law, Israel has the right to protect the lives of its civilians from Hamas attacks, and, consequently, has undertaken measures to defend itself, including the imposition of a maritime blockade to curb Hamas rearmament. Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no vessels can enter the blockaded area.

3. In line with Israel's obligations under international law, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned repeatedly that a maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza and were given due notice of its exact coordinates.

4. Israel repeatedly offered the flotilla organizers to land in the port of Ashdod, and to transfer their aid to Gaza through the existing overland crossings, in accordance with established procedures. Thousands of tons of humanitarian supplies are allowed in by Israel through the land crossings. The flotilla organizers rejected this offer, stating clearly that "this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege." (Greta Berlin, AFP, 27May10).

5. While the organizers claim to have humanitarian concern for the residents of Gaza they did not have similar concerns for the fate of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and when asked, refused to even make a public call to allow him to be visited by the Red Cross. Shalit has languished in a Gazan dungeon for over three years.

6. When it became clear that the protest flotilla intended to violate the blockade despite repeated warnings, Israeli Naval personnel boarded the vessels of the flotilla, and redirected them to Ashdod.

7. Given the large number of vessels participating in the flotilla, there was an operational need to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from the area of the blockade.

8. The intention of the flotilla participants to resist Israeli Naval personnel was made clear in numerous television interviews on 30 May given by the head of the IHH, Bulent Yildirim on board the Mavi Marmara (as he held a year-old infant in his arms, in what he called a "message" to any Israelis planning to act against the flotilla).

9. The Israeli Navy was met with violent opposition, two pistols were found in the hands of protesters, and over a dozen Israeli personnel were hospitalized, some in critical condition. The Navy described being met by a "lynching" party.

9. In Ashdod, the flotilla's cargo will be off-loaded and the humanitarian items will be transferred overland to Gaza in accordance with standard operating procedures. The participants of the flotilla will be subjected to immigration procedures applicable in cases of attempted illegal entry.

Update: Video segment shows the well-organized attack on the boarding party, which evidently expected more peaceful behavior.



Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs provides the video, and much more here.
 
Also via Atlas Shrugs, this from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
During the boarding of the Marmara ship, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally two of the weapons used were grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces first employed riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injuries. In addition, five naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers were seriously wounded and the remainder sustained moderate injuries. All of the injured parties, Israelis and foreigners, are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.