Some further reports about the flotilla episode of May 31st:
According to the IDF as reported by the Jerusalem Post, about 50 of the 700 or so passengers on the Mavi Marmara were prepared and trained to incite violence. Many of the 50 were carrying thick envelopes, each containing thousands of dollars in cash. Some reports put the total at a million Euros. Among the cash-bearers was a group of mercenaries recruited from the city of Bursa in northwest Turkey.
Widely seen videos from the ship’s security cameras show this group preparing to meet the Israeli soldiers boarding the ship. Preparations included wielding metal pipes, slingshots, knives, and other “cold weapons,” as well as gas masks and bulletproof vests. After these preparations the men dispersed into smaller groups and waited for the Israelis.
Each Israeli boarding was surrounded by four or more men and beaten with pipes as well as stabbed and in one case thrown 30 feet from the upper to the lower deck. This was a carefully planned ambush. All nine men killed were in this armed group attacking Israeli soldiers.
According to the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (as translated by Palestine Media Watch), at least three of the attackers were determined seekers of martyrdom. The wife of one said, “he constantly prayed to Allah to grant him Shahada (Martyrdom).” Of another, his brother-in-law said, “Allah granted him the death that he wished for.”
A video made by flotilla participants and seen on Al Jazeera days before the confrontation shows a woman saying, "Right now we face one of two happy endings: either Martyrdom or reaching Gaza." A group chants, “Oh Jews, remember Khaibar,” the place where Mohamed defeated the Jews, “The army of Mohamed will return!”
The Israeli account of the raid and the soldiers’ actions in self-defense are visible in widely available videos. It is also confirmed by an Al Jazeera camera man, Andre Abu Khalil, who is from Lebanon and who provided eyewitness testimony to Reuters. His account is similar to those provided by the Israelis who landed on the ship.
The possibility exists that elements in the Turkish government knew exactly what these people were about, and helped them on their way. Prime Minister Erdogan himself, who has been vehemently attacking Israel since the Gaza war, is believed by some analysts to have a program of restoring Turkish leadership in the Islamic world, as it once had during the Ottoman Empire.
This may require disengaging from the process of trying to join Europe, rejecting and verbally assaulting Israel, and distancing himself from the United States, all while trying politically to defeat pro-Western parties in his own country. It is possible, though in my view not likely, that his government played a semi-official role in the violent provocation planned for the Gaza flotilla.
In any case, the narrative of Israeli commandos brutally attacking defenseless pacifists bearing humanitarian aid is a complete myth.
It is likely that many of the people on board that ship, like those on the other five (completely peaceful) ships in the flotilla and on the Rachel Corrie, which was boarded peacefully days later, were really humanitarian activists. It is likely that many were unaware that there was a minority on the ship preparing for confrontation and martyrdom, bolstered by highly trained mercenaries. Few may have known that they were aiding such people, or that they were helping to smuggle many thousands of dollars into the hands of Hamas.
But now the world does know these things. Or does it? They are certainly not getting the sort of coverage that the Israeli “massacre” of “innocent peace activists” was getting a week ago. So will the backtracking and apologizing soon begin? Like I said, keep breathing, they’ll take a while.