Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, which was carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, on Monday, and were assaulted by a mob onboard the ship. In the ensuing violent confrontation, the Israelis killed nine passengers and more were injured, according to press reports; seven Israeli commandos were injured.
Israeli officials have not released the names of the dead.
JTA reported today that two more ships that are part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla are still planning to sail for the Gaza coast:
An Irish ship named Rachel Corrie, for the Gaza activist killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer, and an American ship will likely arrive in international waters outside of Gaza next week, according to reports. The ships are docked now in ports but intend to continue on their journey, despite the death of nine activists Monday morning during violence when Israeli Navy commandos boarded six of the flotilla’s ships, Greta Berlin, one of the heads of the Free Gaza movement, told Ynet Tuesday.
Meanwhile, 16 of the 679 flotilla activists who were detained by Israel refuse to identify themselves, hampering the deportation process. Most of the rest of the detainees are expected to be deported by the end of the week, according to Ynet.
More than 40 of the activists left Israel on Tuesday. It is not known when the 36 injured activists will be ready to be deported.
A portion of the commando raid Monday was recorded by a drone aircraft and released by the Israel Defense Forces:
Here’s another view of the chaotic attack on the IDF commandos:
At an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, Turkey demanded that Israel be censured for its attack on the Gaza flotilla. The Jerusalem Post reported that Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the Security Council that Israel’s use of force was both “inappropriate and disproportionate.”
Israel must be prepared to face the consequences and be held responsible for its crimes, he said.
In addition to demonstrations against Israel in foreign countries, there were critical reactions within Israel. In an op-ed published in the Guardian (UK) today, Israeli novelist David Grossman called his nation’s attack on the Gaza flotilla criminal and “stupid.” He wrote that the military attack called into question Israel’s policy of blockading the Gaza Strip:
I would like to believe that the shock of Monday’s frantic actions will lead to a re-evaluation of the whole idea of the closure, at last freeing the Palestinians from their suffering, and cleansing Israel of its moral stain. But our experience in this tragic region teaches that the opposite will occur: the mechanisms of violent response, the cycles of vengeance and hatred, Monday began a new round, whose magnitude cannot yet be foreseen.
Above all, this insane operation shows how far Israel has declined. There is no need to overstate this claim. Anyone with eyes to see understands and feels it. Already there are those here who seek to spin the natural and justified sense of Israeli guilt into a strident assertion that the whole world is to blame. Our shame, however, will be harder to live with.
Israeli officials countered that the participants in the Gaza flotilla had planned for a confrontation.
“We found weapons that were prepared in advance and used against our forces,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said of the ship during a news conference Monday afternoon, JTA reported. “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.”
The JTA story continued:
Ayalon said that if the ships’ journey was truly for humanitarian purposes, they would have accepted Israel’s offer to deliver the goods to Gaza. He pointed out that organizers said repeatedly that their goal was to break the blockade on Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the organizers of the convoy for the violent outcome.
“The sail was a provocation. The organization behind the flotilla is not a humanitarian aid organization,” he said during a news conference Monday afternoon.
The Israeli commando raid in international waters worsened the already strained relations between Israel and Turkey, and posed a problem for the Obama administration, which regards both nations as strategic allies.
The Los Angeles Times reported today that the deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Alejandro Wolff, insisted the U.S. was comfortable with Israel conducting its own investigation. “We are convinced and support an Israeli investigation as I called for in my statement earlier and have every confidence that Israel can conduct a credible and impartial, transparent, prompt investigation internally,” Wolff told reporters, according to the official transcript.