Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Hostage Situation?

Alert reader MK points out the details in the following article from Reuters which may explain why things turned ugly on the Mavi Marmara: the Israelis were facing a potential hostage situation.

This would explain the advance preparations of the “aid workers” as well as the reaction of the IDF. The former intended to capture Israeli prisoners — which are a coveted resource among Palestinian mujahideen — and the latter were determined not to have four repeats of Gilad Shalit in Palestinian hands:

Read down to the italicized sections in the story below [italics added]:

Activists Describe “Bloodbath” On Gaza-Bound Ship

ISTANBUL/BEIRUT (Reuters) — Freed after days held incommunicado in Israeli jail, survivors of Monday’s storming of an aid ship described a “bloodbath,” with people shot before their eyes and desperate efforts to treat the wounded.

Those aboard the flotilla returned home on Thursday after being held in Israeli jail since the raid, at last able to give their own accounts of the incident in which Israeli troops killed nine activists aboard the cruise liner Mavi Marmara.

There were sharp differences in accounts: activists accused Israeli troops of war crimes, while Israel held to its line that they fired in self-defense. In one of the key differences, activists denied Israeli accusations that they fired first, with guns they had seized from Israeli troops in the melee.

All sides described a scene of confusion and mayhem in the botched assault.

“People had been shot in the arms, legs, in the head — everywhere. We had so many injured. It was a bloodbath,” said Laura Stuart, a British housewife and first aider.

She described frantic attempts to treat the injured in a makeshift sick room on the ship, and failed attempts to resuscitate some of the dead.

Four Israelis Captured in First Wave

Andre Abu Khalil, a Lebanese cameraman for Al Jazeera TV, gave an account that backed some of what both sides have said.

In his telling, activists initially wounded and captured four Israelis from a first wave that boarded the ship. A second wave of troops tried to storm the ship after the four were taken below decks.

“Twenty Turkish men formed a human shield to prevent the Israeli soldiers from scaling the ship. They had slingshots, water pipes and sticks,” he said. “They were banging the pipes on the side of the ship to warn the Israelis not to get closer.”
- - - - - - - - -
After a 10-minute standoff the Israelis opened fire.

“One man got a direct hit to the head and another one was shot in the neck,” he said. In all he saw some 40 people wounded, some to the legs, eye, stomach and chest.

One activist used a loudhailer to tell the Israelis the four captive soldiers were well and would be released if they provided medical help for the wounded activists. With an Israeli Arab lawmaker acting as mediator, the Israelis agreed. Wounded were brought to the deck and were airlifted off the ship.

Israel says its troops fired only after some of their weapons had been seized by activists, who fired first.

“Once the soldiers saw knives, metal rods, chains, broken bottles, and they were shot at, they shot back and killed nine of them,” Israeli military spokesman Captain Ayre Shalicar said.


The Observer said...

I find it pretty hard to believe that the Israeli intelligence services were unaware that this particular ship was crammed full of Islamic militants. The Israelis are famous for their expertise in intelligence gathering. In the past they have infiltrated almost every fanatical terrorist organization in the area, so why were they not ‘aware’ that there were several fanatics on board the ships in this flotilla who simply wouldn’t go down without a fight? It’s not like this flotilla wasn’t announced and presented in the media. The Israelis knew that the ships were headed for Gaza long before these ships departed from their home ports. The entire thing was also filmed by the Israelis so they could ‘defend’ the use of force against the people onboard this ship.

I watched an interview with an Israeli spokesperson shortly after the incident occurred and this person pointed out that the flotilla was organized and had the backing of an Islamic militant group. He pointed out, correctly that this wasn’t about humanitarian aid, but rather a political act. So my question is did the Israelis predict the outcome on board this particular ship? Did they predict that these fanatics would put up a fight and would have to be terminated, and was it perhaps a warning from the Israelis to others who might think about doing the same thing in the future that this would be the likely outcome if they don’t comply with the Israeli navy?

It’s not like the Israelis have been unilaterally condemned in the aftermath of this incident. As more and more facts have emerged about what actually occurred people have slowly started to revise their opinions about the use of force by the Israeli commandos. I also believe that several nations silently agree with the Israelis on this one, even if they don’t say so publicly. And I certainly don’t believe that there will be a serious backlash for the nation of Israel following this particular episode. People have a short term memory when it comes to politics and they tend to forget rather quickly.

I believe that this was a win-win situation for the Israelis, and they know it.

Maybe next time these fanatics will cram their ships full of explosives and blow it up when the Israeli commandos board their vessels. Now that would be quite a news story.

Zenster said...

In light of the entire Gilad Shalit fiasco, there's no difficulty in imagining that the prospect of Jewish hostages being taken on the Mavi Marmaraon most likely kicked over a veritable hornet's nest back at IDF command.

More than anything, all of this harkens back to the time of Terry Waite in Lebanon when some Soviet diplomats were kidnapped:

The former Soviet state has never been hesitant about meting out retribution on Islamic hardliners. When Islamic fundamentalists kidnapped four Soviet diplomats in Beirut on 30 September 1985, at the height of the foreign hostage crisis in Lebanon, and demanded Moscow press its client state Syria to stop shelling Sunni Muslim militiamen in the northern port of Tripoli, the KGB responded with characteristic vigour.

After clandestine negotiations failed to secure the men's release, Soviet agents grabbed half a dozen fundamentalists in West Beirut and reportedly sliced off a few of their fingers, sending the severed digits to the fundamentalist leadership with the message: "Release our people or you'll get your people back piece by piece."

Three of the kidnapped Soviets were eventually freed after the KGB threatened to go in shooting. The fourth captive, consular attache Arkady Katkov, was shot and wounded during the abductions and had been swiftly disposed of by his captors: his bullet-ridden body was found on a garbage dump the day after the kidnappings.

No more Soviet citizens were kidnapped in Lebanon, even though dozens of Americans, Frenchmen, Britons and others were held, in some cases for six or seven years.
[emphasis added]

The time is long overdue for Israel to take a page or three from the Soviet playbook. The Israelis cannot possibly become any less popular but there is still plenty of headroom in terms of respect to be gained from their Islamic foes.

Multiple gunshot wounds to the head probably went a long way towards communicating a distinct degree of displeasure on the IDF's part. Methinks there will a lot fewer "peace activists" crowding the gunwhales when Israel's commandos show up for the next round of festivities.

Anonymous said...

"There were sharp differences in accounts: activists accused Israeli troops of war crimes."

Typical propaganda from a "Western" press agency.

Accusing others of war crimes is not an "account". It's a political judgement. An account is about facts : who did what to whom, where and when. Were there any distinguished international lawyers on the Mavi Marmara, frantically browsing some dusty law tomes from the ship's library while unpleasant business was occurring above deck ?

Also note this :

"Those aboard the flotilla returned home on Thursday after being held in Israeli jail since the raid, at last able to give their own accounts of the incident in which Israeli troops killed nine activists aboard the cruise liner Mavi Marmara."

Why "at last" ? This is not fact-reporting, it is judgement-passing. "At last" suggests that the Israeli report of accounts is, of course, false, since being Israeli.

Notice how the whole incident was about "Israeli troops killed nine activists", and nothing else. This suggests Israeli troops are used to killing civilians in cold blood, unprovoked.

They did not "kill nine activists after being assaulted" ; they did not "kill nine activists in self-defence" ; they did not even "kill nine activists, allegedly in self-defence".

That's Reuters for you. Who needs minarets after that ?

Anonymous said...

"With an Israeli Arab lawmaker acting as mediator."

Meaning this guy was on the ship. Meaning he's a traitor. Meaning he should be shot.

Or am I missing something here ?

heroyalwhyness said...

Differences in accounts filtered through the rapid release of video provided by sources like al-Jazeera and Israel . . .subtitled and highlighted . . .keep fiction from gaining traction.

Top Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell was also on board & said Israeli commandos shot people who were sleeping during Monday's raid on the flotilla

Iran Revolutionary Guards ready to escort Gaza ships

The Guards, with their own navy, air force and command structure separate from the regular armed forces, are seen as fiercely loyal to the values of the Islamic Republic.

Iran smuggling German-made nuclear equipment via Dubai"

Svartwulf said...

Man, after reading that, it puts a lot of perspective on things. IDF command might not have even given the command to fire. The soldiers, seeing their brothers being taken below and knowing full well what would happen to hostages might have just decided to say F*** it and stormed themselves, while IDF is backing them up since it's the right thing to do.

No one gets left behind.

Arius said...

The IDF had no choice, with four of theirs hostage.

Zenster said...

Arius: The IDF had no choice, with four of theirs hostage.

Au contraire. The IDF had plenty of choice:

1.) Another round of protracted hostage-dangling by Muslims before the world's cameras, as with Gilad Shalit.

or …

2.) The immense satisfaction of capping on the spot some worthless "peace activist" terrorist arse.

Do the math.

michele said...

Check how a French channel docotred a photo by removing the knife from the hand of a "humanitarian", here