Matt Friedman, writing for the AP, has the most detailed description of the assault on the Free Gaza flotilla boat Mavi Marmara that I’ve seen so far. Some interesting points:
- Israeli commandos boarded the boat from a low flying Black Hawk helicopter firing paintball guns. What? That’s right. They claim to have been using paintball guns with single side arms for backup. The other boats in the flotilla were easily taken over without incident.
- Some activists, reasoning that they were in international waters and had the right to defend themselves, put up a fight with metal rods and small knives.
- One soldier alone killed 6 people in response to seeing his men wounded.
I don’t know how to respond to this. I look at it as a cautionary tale for activists. If you’re on a nonviolent mission, get trained first and know that the rest of your team is trained in nonviolence. Did they have the right to defend themselves? That question leads to endless debate like this:
They were in international waters.
So what, these are freaking Israeli commandos! What did you think would happen.
They were afraid and acted rashly.
Yeah, so were the soldiers holding the paintball guns.
Their cause was just, why not assert themselves? Who wouldn’t get caught up in the heat of the moment?
These are the Israelis. They will freaking kill you and leave no one to tell the tale. And the US will let them investigate it themselves. You knew the drill when you signed up.
This back and forth solves nothing. The Rachel Corrie Free Gaza ship is on its way. Even after this they are heading forward. Not for Ashdod but for Gaza. What about it? I do not believe these activists are terrorists. The AP article points out that many other ships have either been seized without incident or have been allowed to get through. The point is to draw attention to the blockade. Israel claims that the blockade is necessary and humane. They claim enough aid gets through that things are tolerable in Gaza. I disagree strongly. Both the blockade and the occupation are illegal.
The Rachel Corrie is being tailed by Israeli warships. The Irish government is requesting that Israel insure that they make it safely into Gaza. Check out this news story from Belfast Telegraph.