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Monday, May 31, 2010

Violence on the Seas

There was a deadly incident on the high seas involving members of the Israeli military and members of a Palestinian group of protesters.

Israeli commandos on Monday stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens after encountering unexpected resistance as the forces boarded the vessels.

The operation in international waters off the Gaza coast was a nightmare scenario for Israel that looked certain to further damage its international standing, strain already tense relations with Turkey -- the unofficial sponsor of the mission -- and draw unwanted attention to Gaza's plight.

The tough Israeli response drew condemnations from Turkey, France and the U.N.'s Mideast envoy, while Greece suspended a military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel's air force chief.

This incident occurred hours ago. It's unclear how bad this will be but it looks bad. More coverage here.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

And here.

And here.

1 comment:

AG said...

They made it sound like this whole deal was practically scripted: the boats were unarmed, the Israelis knew they were coming. They'd board the ships, deport the protesters, and inspect then deliver aid themselves.

What the heck happened?