(Past experience has shown that the ITIC has been highly accurate. It is a far cry from Debka, for example, which has a more checkered track record.)
The upshot is that there was a core of about 40 IHH members who, with Turkish government support, unofficially took over the Mavi Marmara and planned the clashes with the IDF.
1. An initial analysis of statements taken from passengers aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara after it was towed to the port of Ashdod show that operatives belonging to the radical Islamic Turkish IHH1 led the violent confrontation with the IDF.Interesting details:
2. The statements confirmed that the violence met by the IDF soldiers was not spontaneous but rather an organized, premeditated action carried out by a hard core of 40 IHH operatives (among the 500 passengers). The operatives, who acted according to a clearly-defined internal hierarchy, boarded the ship in the port of Istanbul without undergoing a security inspection (as opposed to the other passengers, who boarded in Antalya after a full inspection).
3. The IHH operatives’ preparations included handing out walkie-talkies as they boarded the ship, taking over the upper deck, setting up a situation room for communications, and a briefing given to the operatives two hours before the confrontation by IHH head Bülent Yildirim, who was on board the ship and commanded his men. IHH operatives wore ceramic vests and gas masks, and were armed with large quantities of cold weapons which they had prepared from equipment found on board (knives, axes, metal cables, metal pipes used as clubs, wrenches, etc.). They were also equipped with box cutters which had been prepared on the upper deck in advance.
4. The passengers, including the IHH operatives, stated that there were close relations between the organization and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and that the Turkish government was involved in preparations for the flotilla. The statements reinforce the original assassment that the objective of the flotilla was not merely to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, but focused on provocation and a violent confrontation with Israel.
* The Turkish prime minister Erdogan would not have been elected without the help of the IHH.
* " During the voyage a group of IHH operatives supervised the ship. IHH guards were posted in the passageways and did not permit passengers to reach the upper deck. They also limited the movements of the crew, who needed permission from the IHH men to go from one place to another."
* Eight of the nine killed were IHH operatives and volunteers (including an IHH journalist.)
There has been criticism in Turkey as well concerning the ties between Erdogan and the IHH.
As far as the accuracy of the passenger "eyewitness testimony," YNet reports on the firestorm in Egypt over an Egyptian passenger that detailed how the IHH took IDF soldiers captive:
A storm has been kicked up in Egyptian media after experiences on the flotilla are recounted. The version of events on the Gaza-bound flotilla as heard by an Egyptian member of parliament have evoked the ire of a number of state-run media outlets in the country because, they claim, the stories help Israeli PR efforts.In other words, there is a usually unspoken rule in the Arab world not to say anything that could help Israel, especially if it is true. Pseudo-"peace activists" adopt the same rule as their hatred of Israel is what colors all of their actions, not their desire for helping Gazans.
An Egyptian member of parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Beltagy, took part in the flotilla to the Gaza Strip that was commandeered by the Israeli Navy. After participating in the clashes on the deck of the Mavi Marmara, he was arrested by Israel and later released to Egypt.
On Tuesday of last week, he was interviewed on the "10 at Night" program on the Egyptian channel Dream. During the interview, he said that the flotilla participants overtook three Israeli commandos and snatched their weapons from them. This admission of employing force against IDF soldiers has evoked a media storm among Egyptian columnists, who claim this was a "public relations gift to Israel."
The main factor that has helped Israel confirm its narrative has indeed been Muslims whose cultural desire to show their manliness in resisting the IDF outweighed their realization that this very testimony of supposed IDF weakness is really a clear demonstration of initial IDF restraint. The Free Gaza folks wouldn't fall into that trap because their own fake public narrative is that they are against all forms of violence - but Arabs and Turks have cultures that celebrate militancy and abhor any appearance of weakness, ironically making their testimonies more accurate.
(Update: deleted a sentence - I misunderstood a part of the report.)