Here’s how Haaretz tells it:
The left-wing activists on board a flotilla carrying aid to the Gaza Strip tried to lynch the Israel Navy commandos who stormed their Turkish-flagged ship early Monday, Israel Defense Forces sources told Haaretz.
The commandos, who intercepted the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara after it ignored orders to turn back, said they encountered violent resistance from activists armed with sticks and knives. According to the soldiers, the activists threw one of their comrades from the upper deck to the lower after they boarded.
Activists attacked a commando with iron bars as he descended onto the ship from a helicopter, the army said. The IDF said its rules of engagement allowed troops to open fire in what it called a “life-threatening situation”.
The soldiers said they were forced to open fire after the activists struck one of their comrades in the head and trampled on him. A senior field commander ordered the soldiers then to respond with fire, a decision which the commandos said received full backing the military echelon.
At least 10 people were killed and several more wounded after the Israel Navy troops opened fire on the six-ship flotilla. Unofficial reports put the death toll at between 14 and 20.
I particularly enjoy the story about the peace activists throwing soldiers off the upper decks. That’s very creative. Of course, the entire point of this flotilla is to engage in non-violent direct action, so there is no way in hell that the activists used knives or iron bars or made any other violent moves. The Israelis just slaughtered them.
Update [2010-5-31 13:5:41 by BooMan]: There is some video that suggests there was resistance to Israeli commandos as they landed on at least one of the vessels. However, I don’t know the context of the video. For example, had people already been shot? So, the truth will have to await a thorough investigation. Regardless, the Israelis illegally boarded ships in international waters and killed many civilians.
Audrey Bomse, a spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement, which is behind the convoy, told the BBC Israel’s actions were disproportionate.
“We were not going to pose any violent resistance. The only resistance that there might be would be passive resistance such as physically blocking the steering room, or blocking the engine room downstairs, so that they couldn’t get taken over. But that was just symbolic resistance.”
She said there was “absolutely no evidence of live fire”.
This is one of the stupidest things that Israel has ever done, and that is saying something.