Friday, June 04, 2010

What happened on the ship: Extracting truth from half-truths

It takes a lot of time to extract the truth of exactly what happened aboard the Mavi Marmara, but when you get lots of testimonies that contradict each other from both sides, seeing what is in common can shed light.

For example, in the article I quoted previously from the Australian journalist Paul McGeough:

There were conflicting accounts of the first commando landing – some activists said he was injured and was being carried inside the ship for treatment by the flotilla doctors.

From Al Jazeera:
The organisers [of the flotilla] swapped the four Israelis kidnapped, or caught, by the people on the ship, and because they were beaten up, because it's kind of resistance from our side, we swapped the Israeli soldiers to [get] to treat our injured.

From Ha'aretz: :
During Israel's takeover of a Turkish ship in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla this week, some passengers tried to take captive three commandos who lost consciousness as a result of the activists' blows, according to early findings of a navy investigation. The three were dragged into one of the passenger halls below deck and were held there for several minutes.

After dozens of other commandos began searching the ship, the Mavi Marmara, the three soldiers regained consciousness and managed to join their comrades.
So, beyond merciless beatings, the Turks tried to kidnap the soldiers - and later claimed that they were simply treating their injuries!

From McGeough:
Matthias Gardel, a leader of the Swedish Palestinian support group, confirmed the soldiers had been beaten, but insisted those involved were unarmed and in keeping with the ship's non-violent charter, the soldiers' weapons were thrown overboard.

From Ha'aretz:
The soldiers reported that the activists had fired on them during the confrontation and that at least two commandos suffered gunshot wounds. After the incident, 9mm bullet casings were found - a kind not used by the naval commandos.

The Israel Defense Forces says that during the operation a number of pistols and an M-4 rifle were taken from soldiers, but they believe that the Turkish activists had other weapons. The captain of the ship told the naval commando chief that the guns were thrown overboard before the ship was completely taken over.
Which explains the lack of weapons found, even though there were live video and audio reports from the soldiers as they heard and saw the gunshots.

Free Gaza claims that the ship raised a white flag almost immediately.

From Al Jazeera:
It was 14 ships which approached us, nearly at 4.30 in the morning. Fourteen ships that I could count and one helicopter....It ended at six, when a voice from the microphone said the ship was controlled by the Israelis, 'please enter the rooms'.

So it took some ninety minutes of fighting before the Marmara surrendered.

(h/t Alexander)