The soldiers and commander sent to intercept the provocation flotilla to Gaza recount the brutal violence they encountered on the Mavi Marmara
The Turkel Committee, investigating the events of the provocation flotilla to Gaza, has published its interim report conclusions and with it testimonies of those soldiers who took part in the interception of the ship. The testimonies paint a picture of violent clashes between soldiers and bloodthirsty terrorist operatives who waited for them on the Mavi Marmara.
The interception crew’s commander testified for the committee over the past few months. He explained that, already, upon first contact with the Marmara, a number of violent operatives were identified.
"I recognized a large number of operatives waiting for us”
"I recognized a large number of operatives waiting for us along the sides of the ship and on every floor. Most wore masks, some gas masks. They all wore orange protective vests, some held metal rods, slingshots and chains," he said.
The commander added that, "the closer we got, I instructed the soldiers that we are absolutely to abstain from using life fire at this time. As we approached the ship [arriving on boats that flanked it], a torrent of objects began being thrown at us from all directions - mainly metal rods and metal chairs, large cans of food and large screws that injured the soldiers and damaged the boat. One of the soldiers was struck in the fact by a dark object that cut him under the eye.
“Another soldier was hit in the head and I gave the order to use non-lethal fire toward those exhibiting violence. The soldiers asked for permission to use live fire and I did not allow it. The people on the ship began to disperse so I believe the non-lethal fire was effective."
According to the commander, the collision with the violent activists continued with the forces’ climb onto the ship. "I began climbing up the ladder first. The hook at the top of the ladder flew up at my face. I then realized it had been cut with an electric chainsaw…”
“The operatives that had backed away returned to where we were climbing. At this point they were above us, in effect controlling what was happening from above. They begin throwing objects again. I heard them yelling "Allah Akbar!" [or God is Great].
“The torrent of objects continued to be hurled down at us and at this point we were at close range, it had become very dangerous for us to be there. I considered whether or not to use live fire but decided to retreat with the boat and report that there was heavy violence on the ship. I got the report that the same thing was happening on the other side, against the other crew trying to board.”
“Ten people jumped on me and started beating me brutally”
In his testimony, the commander continued to describe how later there was also an attempt to descend onto the ship with a helicopter.
"The first helicopter threw down a rope and two shock grenades [or non-lethal electric explosives] after seeing dozens of people wearing gas masks on the deck. The operatives on the ship tied the rope to the radar antenna on the ship’s roof. As a result, another rope was dispatched from the other side of the helicopter, another shock grenade was thrown and additional troops slid onto the ship on the other rope," said the commander. According to testimonies, at this point, the combat soldiers were beaten with metal rods, knives, chairs and shot at with live fire.
The defiant violence reached its peak when three IDF soldiers were attacked, beaten and kidnapped to the hull of the ship. At this point the true lynching began.
“When I got two meters away from the ship, people grabbed what was left of the rope, ripped me off and threw me aside. Ten people jumped on me and started beating me brutally from every side using clubs, metal rods and their fists - using anything available,” said one of the soldiers.
“I felt like I was going to die"
The soldier described how he was beaten and injured on every part of his body, mainly his head. "I felt that my life was in real, immediate danger. I tried to find the weapon on my back. The attackers pushed me to the side of the ship, a number of the attackers grabbed my legs and my body and threw me from the side of the ship to the bottom deck - a distance of 3.5 or so meters," he explained.
According to the soldier, as he landed at the lower deck his hand broke and a mob of people crowded him. "I was simply lynched. They pulled my helmet off and choked me, stuck fingers in my eyes to pull them from their sockets, pulled my body in all directions. I felt like I was going to die."
The soldier described how at some point he managed to reach his weapon. "I cocked it and shot one of the attackers in the leg but immediately after, a metal rod hit my head hard. It caused a short concussion and in that second, my weapon was taken from me. Blood started gushing from my head and the mob continued beating me and pushed me in to the hull of the ship,” explained the soldier.
As mentioned, the Turkel Committee has ruled that “IDF soldiers acted professionally and considered all options faced with heavy violence they did not expect.” In the report’s conclusions read by Judge Jacob Turkel it was stated that IDF soldiers acted professionally, continually using non-lethal weapons as opposed to lethal ones in a reaction appropriate to the type of violence they were faced with.
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