The “humanitarians” attempting to run the naval blockade into Gaza got what they wanted: a violent confrontation, dead activists, and a propaganda victory. It remains only to refute the lies.
The Israelis say that their soldiers were attacked; the “humanitarians” say they never attacked anyone. This is a binary proposition; one of them is lying. We cannot fall back on the comfortable but false notion that the truth is somewhere in between.
The New York Times paints it as a he-said-she-said, who-can-say? situation:
The Israeli Defense Forces said more than 10 people were killed when naval personnel boarding the six ships in the aid convoy met with “live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.” The naval forces then “employed riot dispersal means, including live fire,” the military said in a statement.
Greta Berlin, a leader of the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement, speaking by telephone from Cyprus, rejected the military’s version.
“That is a lie,” she said, adding that it was inconceivable that the civilian passengers on board would have been “waiting up to fire on the Israeli military, with all its might.”
“We never thought there would be any violence,” she said.
But the NYT is ignoring the key piece of evidence, a video released by the IDF that proves they were attacked. As these things always are, it’s grainy and it’s somewhat hard to tell what’s going on, but you can clearly see the “humanitarians” swarming the soldiers, attacking them with clubs, and throwing things that explode:
Another IDF video shows the Israeli Navy offering to dock the ship at Ashdod and transport the supplies into Gaza under their observation. The “humanitarians” refused, because this mission wasn’t actually about getting supplies into Gaza.
At this hour the NYT is still running the same story, which does not mention the IDF video. One cannot adopt a position of “balance” between the truth and a lie (at least, not without lying oneself).
It does strike me that the Israelis committed a major tactical error in the way they boarded the ship. By rappelling onto the ship a few at a time, they created a situation in which their first soldiers were outnumbered and vulnerable to attack. That created a melee that led ultimately to deadly force.
I’m no expert, but it strikes me that they would have been better off approaching by boat, so they could board many soldiers at once with water cannons at the ready. I’m not sure why they didn’t. Perhaps they didn’t believe the “humanitarians” would attack them. If so, they won’t make that mistake again. (More here.)
UPDATE: A new IDF video is even clearer:
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: IHH, the Turkish group that organized the “humanitarian” flotilla, is a branch of I’tilaf Al-Khayr (“Union of Good”), a group created by Hamas and designated by the US Treasury as a terrorist organization. More background on IHH here.
UPDATE: Changed the link for the Israeli account to a better story. The original link was to this story.
UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff makes a good point:
It’s easy to get your side of the story out first if (1) you already know you’re going to start a fight and (2) you are willing to lie about what happened. As ever, the Palestinian side met both of these criteria last night. The Israelis, by contrast, did not know in advance that they would be assaulted, though they probably should have placed a higher probability on this outcome than they did.
More importantly, the Israelis did not want to present an account of the battle until they could verify all of the details. This is understandable — the government stands to be crucified by the MSM and the international community if it gets any detail wrong. Hamas, the PA, and their supporters face no such risk.
UPDATE: This video shows that the Israelis did try to board by sea first, and were repelled. It still strikes me as odd that fast-roping from a helicopter would be easier, but I’ll admit that I know little about it.