Sunday, January 23, 2011

The truth about Mavi Marmara

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

Detailed testimony from IDF officers and soldiers, supported by documentation, reveals for the first time the aggressive, brutal fighting carried out by IHH operatives and their accomplices against Israeli forces aboard the Mavi Marmara

1. This report describes the fighting waged by IHH operatives and their accomplices against IDF soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara. The descriptions are based on testimonies given by IDF officers and soldiers who participated in the takeover of the ship (names withheld by the IDF).
2. The testimonies corroborate the vast amounts of information gathered by the
ITIC since the takeover of the Mavi Marmara (some of which, including visual material,
was used in this report to complete or illustrate the IDF soldiers' testimonies). The information includes photographs and videos taken aboard the Mavi Marmara by the IDF as well as journalists who accompanied the flotilla and foreign media; documents seized aboard the ship; statements made by passengers; descriptions in The Bloodstained Mavi Marmara, the book about the flotilla written by Turkish journalist Şefik Dinç published in Turkey; and information appearing in the Turkish and Western media (including the BBC's "Panorama"). 3. The testimonies of the IDF soldiers, supported by ITIC information, unequivocally refute the false, biased claims made by the operatives aboard the Mavi Marmara, claims which were used in the report criticizing Israel lodged with the fact- finding mission sent by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The main conclusions drawn from the testimonies are the following:

1) The IDF force which took over the Mavi Marmara was faced with organized resistance from scores of operatives (IHH operatives and their accomplices). They were highly motivated and armed with knives, clubs, axes, iron chains, etc. They had been equipped with bulletproof vests, gas masks, pepper spray, headlamps and walkie-talkies. Their mode of deployment and modus operandi indicate that at least some of them had military skills (early briefing, centralized direction, assignment to fighting stations,professional know how for operating military equipment and weapons, combat tactics, etc.).
2) The claims that guns were fired from the IDF helicopter at the deck of the
Mavi Marmara, that the IDF forces fired their weapons indiscriminately, and that they
shot at passengers point-blank are false. At no time did the soldiers shoot from
the helicopters, and the helicopters were not equipped with weapons which
could be used to attack the ship. According to testimonies from IDF soldiers and
officers, a stun grenade was thrown from the first helicopter to deter the operatives
(which might be the source of the claim that the helicopters fired on them).
3) Two IDF soldiers were shot a short time after they landed on the upper
deck, one in the stomach, the other in the knee. According to the soldiers'
testimonies, they were shot at during the fighting. In some instances, the shots were
fired from weapons snatched from IDF soldiers. The bullet wounds and testimonies of
the soldiers completely contradict the Human Rights Council's report, which denies the
fact that IDF soldiers were shot.
4) During the first stages of the fighting three IDF soldiers were taken
hostage, wounded and moved below decks. During their capture and
confinement, despite their serious wounds they were brutally beaten with
wooden clubs, stabbed and choked, genuine threats to their lives. Despite their
appeals they received no medical attention. They were apparently saved by the
presence of passengers not involved in the fighting and correspondents with cameras
who documented their beatings, deterring their captors from killing them. Eventually,
the soldiers were released when the captain used the PA system to announce that the
ship was under IDF control.
5) The IDF soldiers behaved humanely toward the passengers after the
operatives' resistance had been neutralized. They tied the hands of operatives
who were violent or posed a danger. Passengers whose hands were tied but not
dangerous and requested to be liberated were untied. Once the situation was under IDF
control, additional passengers who were not dangerous were untied whether or not they
requested it. According to the testimonies, including the statement made by a doctor
aboard the Mavi Marmara, the wounded were treated professionally and with
care, even some who refused medical treatment and evacuation to Israel,
claiming they wanted to die as shaheeds. Despite the difficult circumstances
under which the Israeli medical team worked, not one single wounded
operative died.
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