79 thoughts on “Al Jazeera Cameraman’s Eyewitness Acccount of IDF Attack – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.

  1. Again, let’s discount at least part of this account as possibly exaggerated.

    I don’t see how you get to decide what’s exaggerated and what’s not.

    On the one hand you admit that the eyewitness accounts resemble a Rashomon-like story where each witness describes what he/she saw from his perspective.

    Yet, on the other hand, you seem to be cherry picking the testimonies that don’t mesh with some kind of general mental construct you have of the incident.

    So, what’s the problem? Do you find it hard to believe that the murderers of Shayetet 13 would do such a thing?

    If you’re going to speculate in this manner, then you might as well delay the putting-the-puzzle-together process until all the dust has settled, as it were.

    Because, as of now, you are doing exactly what Israel’s spokespeople have been doing over the last 3 days – controlling the narrative and softening it, advancing milder accounts while pushing aside harsher ones.

    Judging by your aggregate body of work on this website, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice with this particular article.

    1. you seem to be cherry picking the testimonies that don’t mesh with some kind of general mental construct you have of the incident.

      Not at all. I’m not cherry-picking. I’m reading accounts from all sides and putting together a puzzle using the pieces that seem to fit the best to make a whole. I’m discarding those pieces which don’t seem supportable. Some of those pieces are from the passengers but more are from the Israelis.

      If you’re going to speculate in this manner, then you might as well delay the putting-the-puzzle-together process until all the dust has settled

      Which is precisely what more than one pro-Israel commenter has written here. And this approach is a cop out of the first order. I’ll let others wait for the dust to settle. Too much evil was done here to wait for dust to settle.

      you are doing exactly what Israel’s spokespeople have been doing over the last 3 days – controlling the narrative and softening it, advancing milder accounts while pushing aside harsher ones

      I have no idea what this means in real terms. But I categorically reject the comparison. I’m trying to find the most likely narrative, not the mildest & not the harshest. That has nothing to do w. what I’m doing.

      I’m totally content with the work I did in this post and elsewhere on this issue. Yr. negative judgment doesn’t overly concern me.

      1. Richard,

        No criticism will ever concern you as the “most likely narrative” always happens to correspond with your prejudice.

        What exactly makes a source supportable? I’d like to hear.

  2. Thanks Richard for this balanced and thoughtful overview of the information available at this moment. I think you did a good job in trying to make a distinction between what may be partly exaggerated and what seems to be corroborated by multiple witnesses.
    When I saw the images of the soldiers being hosed down in the boats it went though my mind too, that they must have felt humiliated and frustrated, and that they may have taken it out on the activists later.

  3. An Al Jazeera cameraman who was on board also said in an interview that one of the passengers was shot in the top of his head, indicating that he was shot from the air.

  4. I cannot confirm that this is the case, but one of our coordinators who was on the Challenger boat said that the attack came when the Muslim passengers were at prayer, so that they were kneeling when the commandos dropped down onto the deck. This might explain why victims could have been shot on the top of their heads.

    1. Mary, the Al Jazeera cameraman who reported this said he saw that person fall, indicating that he was, if not standing, at least upright when shot. He also interpreted the location of the gunshot wound to mean he was shot from the air, so I tend to believe that he was shot from the helicopter. In addition, he said you could “almost see” rifle muzzles pointing through holes in the helicopter. It would not surprise me to learn they had snipers on the helicopter taking potshots at the people below.

  5. Horrifying.
    Yes Richard, there might be more than 9 people killed. The amount changed throughout the day. First there were 10, then there were 19, now there are 9. Did some of them rise from the dead?

  6. First we in the media office in Cyprus were told two had died, and we hoped that would be the final death toll. Then Israel started to say it was ten, and later a figure much higher. They reported the injured as 31 up to around 50. And we figured they would know, since they were the ones responsible.

    Now we are praying all the passengers will be accounted for, because so far apparently they have not been, and the organizers for the Turkish charity are understandably concerned.

    Some passengers are still hospitalized, while most have been deported. No doubt they just want to go home, wherever home is. Hopefully not credible are rumors that some were thrown overboard during the invasion. Inshah’Allah this will turn out not to be the case.

  7. I’m still infuriated that the names of the dead and injured have not been released, and so we still do not have a definite number re: casualties. It feels as though we’re dealing with a third world tin pot dictatorship, not a “modern” country calling itself a democracy. Where is the transparency? Why all the secrecy, if the Israelis did nothing wrong?

    1. To add to this comment, this is how I currently construct the sequence of events (although I may be wrong, this is all very speculative):
      1) Initial attempt to take over the ship from helicopters, using mostly non-lethal weapons (and personal guns). During this first attempt, four soldiers were kidnapped and taken down, and two of the flotilla passengers were killed from personal guns.
      2) This is a sheer speculation: The IDF chief commander (who must have been in charge in such an important mission), perhaps with the backing of the minister of defense, instructed the commander in charge to change the definition of the boat from a “peace seeking force” to a “terrorist boat”, thus sanctioning the forces in the place to take any measures they wished.
      3) At this stage the flotilla passengers understood how foolish they were and raised the white flag.
      4) However, this did not matter anymore because now the army was using the regulation “Overtaking a terrorist boat with kidnapped soldiers inside” which basically sanctioned them the right, for example, to shoot from the air. Anyone on board the deck of the flotilla at this stage was in danger, and I believe that then most of the killing happened.
      I STRESS THIS IS ALL SPECULATION, but can be a basis for finding out the truth.
      If this is the truth, it is quite disgusting how the heads of the army are hiding their responsibility.
      I find it hard to sleep thinking that this is maybe how things happened.
      Also, I am very much worried for the Israeli Arabs that were there, with no harmful intentions (it was only a small group of Turks who caused the initiation of the drama).

      1. Your scenario is plausible, but I must take issue on a couple of points.

        1. The soldiers were on duty performing a missing, and were therefore not kidnapped, they were captured. I object strongly to the application of the propaganda term “kidnapped” to on duty soldiers, particularly when they are in the process of committing a violent attack.

        2. It was not a small group of Turks who caused the initiation of the drama, it was the Israeli military, who clearly initiated the violence with stun grenades, teargas, and gunfire (whether so-called “rubber” bullets or live amunition) before they ever stepped on board the ship. And by the way, what was the point of using crowd dispersing weapons such as tear gas and stun grenades on a group of people on a vessel in the middle of the water? To where were they supposed to disperse?

        1. I was just trying to make sense of the facts, and not make a big deal of words.
          1. I don’t mind to say “captured”, if that sounds more appropriate to you. The point is that I am trying to understand how the Israeli military saw it in their eyes, in order to understand their actions.
          2. Of course the IDF is also to blame for the drama. The question is why it happened on that ship and not on the others. The point is that there was a specifically active Turkish group that showed more resistance than expected by the IDF, which was clearly taken by surprise, and even managed to CAPTURE some soldiers.

          1. I suppose it didn’t help the passengers on board the MAVA MARMARA that they were overwhelmingly Muslim.

          2. 1. Dori, it is not what sounds more appropriate to me, it is much bigger than that. I understand you do not want to make a big deal out of words, but sometimes words ARE a big deal. In fact, when it comes to the type of “perception management” at which the Israelis are expert, words are THE deal. They promote the term “kidnapped” for a reason, and that reason is to plant a particular false image in the minds of people like you and like me. When we adopt their language we are accepting their image, and worse yet we are passing it on to others. It is critical that we all avoid falling into their trap by adopting their mendacious language, and that we remind each other when necessary.

            I don’t believe for a moment that the Israeli military sees it as kidnapping. That’s just how they want the world public to see it.

            2. No, the IDF is not “also” to blame. The Israelis attacked the people on the Marmara, the people on the Marmara did not attack the IDF. As to why it happened on that ship and not the others, from the accounts so far the Israelis attacked the Marmara far more violently than they did the other vessels, using stun grenades, tear gas, so-called “rubber” bullets, and very likely live ammunition even before they boarded. Based on at least some eyewitness accounts they may have killed some people even before they boarded. The people on the Marmara clearly felt they were in danger, and given that they could not escape, they chose to fight back. What did the Israelis expect in exchange for their violent attack, tea and cookies?

          3. From the many reports I read, it appears that Netanyahu ordered the ship to be attacked because it was too large to be towed and had to be subdued in a more “direct” way.

            I wonder, too, whether seeing a group of Muslims on deck making fajr prayer had anything to do with it.

          4. Shirin,

            1. I agree that words are sometimes very important.
            2. Fine, the word “Blame” is inappropriate. However I believe that the reason the IDF attacked the way it did is that it met resistance (including the capturing of soldiers) that it did not expect. This is corroborated by eyewitnesses (such as the one in this blog) and by the (very partial and unfairly selective) IDF videos. Evidently, we cannot know the full story as we are lacking a lot of the information, and as I have already mentioned earlier, this is a clear case of Rashomon. Hopefully after the UN and Turkey and Israel hold their investigations we will be less confused (Of course by “Israel” I do not mean the spokesperson of the IDF, which is sheer propaganda, but a more “objective” source such as the supreme court of law).

          5. after the UN and Turkey and Israel hold their investigations

            Are you in dreamland or what? First, Israel & her helpmeet the good ol’ USofA are resisting a UN investigation. There will be no Israeli investigation. There already is a Turkish investigation. So 1 outa three aint’ bad if it’s baseball, but this isn’t.

    1. It posted the song more as a cynical reaction against the navy, the name of the song “yiddische piraten” (jewish pirates) seams to capture the work of the Israeli navy in the attack on the ships.

      As an Israeli I don’t see any other choice then to react cynically on the atrocities committed by my governments. You might say it is a very jewish reaction of me 🙂

      1. You don’t see any other choice than to react cynically?

        There’s an old saying, Yoshi – if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

        1. I have to admit that I thought it was funny. At the same time I realized that it is not, as people died.

  8. Elisabeth, it’s appalling.
    But more important, the Rachel Corrie is 63 miles from Gaza right now, already within Israeli controlled international waters. It’s going to be a sleepless night for a lot of us.

      1. Sorry Elisabeth, all I know is what I hear from a friend, who’s friend is aboard the Rachel Corrie.

    1. IDF lie? Nevvah! 🙂
      (Isn’t it sad that Israel and IDF have become a symbol of lies and deception?)

  9. I don’t believe any soldiers were kidnapped; that’s absurd. I do believe the wounded soldiers were helped belowdecks by passengers and were given assistance. This is what I heard, and this is what makes more sense to me. Kidnapping armed soldiers, especially by unarmed people or people wielding sticks, is a rather unlikely scenario.

  10. Thanks, Richard, for addressing Today’s Zaman’s report of the unaccounted-for and the claim that injured activists were thrown into the Med. So far in my trolling, you are the only site to raise these issues. You are quite right: the passenger manifest needs to be produced and measured against those, dead and alive, kidnapped by Israel.

  11. All battles are Rashomon accounts.

    Quite possibly Israelis shot each other. Battles are very confusing and “friendly fire” is a normal danger.

    Disrespecting the Turks is a serious mistake. Even secular Kemalists in the military and “Deep State” are going to be p’o’d. Turks don’t just shout threats and then do nothing, like Mediterranean sorts. The President is saying future convoys will be escorted by the Turkish Navy. Is Bibi up to fighting the Turkish Navy?

    There are moments when I wish we still had the Ottoman Empire!

    1. Zhu, my people, the Sephardi Jews, were saved by your Ottoman Empire in 1492, and enjoyed the safety and intellectual freedom the Ottoman Empire gave them for the next four hundred years. The Jews owe the Turks so much!
      The answer to your question must be: Yes, Bibi is up to fighting the Turkish army.
      And the other question is: what does the world do about the Rachel Corrie, who is now in Israeli controlled international waters, and on her way to Gaza?

  12. Turks don’t just shout threats and then do nothing, like Mediterranean sorts.

    What is that supposed to mean? Both about ‘Turks’ and about ‘Mediterranean sorts’?

    1. Dear Zhu Bajie (豬八戒),
      Why don’t you stop once in a while during your Journey to the West, so that you can get to know the peoples on the way, and do not have to speak about them in stereotypes.
      Best wishes,
      Xi Wang Mu 西王母
      (Queen mother of the West)

      (Or is it your real name?)

      1. Okay, I give up. Why would I even try to keep the peace, if there still are assertiveniss training exercises, teaching you that world peace isn’t of any importance as long as the world hasn’t given you the opportunity to come to peace with yourself?
        Why would I even try to talk about history, about the Middle Ages, when some people are not able to get over the last two minutes, when they thought they spotted a sign of stereotyping?
        Why am I here, in this blog, waisting my time writing shit like this?

        1. Zhu Bajie is a famous character from the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. It is not a real name! (The first Chinese character means ‘pig’!) I know the figure from Japanese stories where he is called Cho Hakkai (same characters though). I was not trying to insult someone from China, I was joking about his pen name!

          1. Oh, and Queen mother of the West is a figure in the story too. I hope this explains everything so that we can concentrate again on the important thing: The Rachel Corrie. (Good night.)

    2. Elisabeth: Zhu means well. He’s just trying to say that there’s a difference in temperament between Turkish people and mediterranean people. I live in the mediterranean since 1976. I know they have a big mouth, and cool down as soon they have to decide to act on it. Turkish people are different. They mean what they say.

      1. Hi Jack,
        I do not believe much in differences in temperament and that kind of thing when aplied to ‘peoples’ rather than individuals. I studied quite bit of Turkish years ago (although I have now lost most of it) and travelled around in Turkey quite a bit, and I am not sure at all that ‘they mean what they say’, as opposed to other peoples. Maybe I am a bit over sensitive, but I have read far too many comments recently (having to do with the recent events) in which ‘Arabs’ are compared unfavorably to ‘Turks’. (As in “now you Israeli’s will have some REAL MEN to deal with” etc.)

        1. Elisabeth, you’ve been a woman long enough to know what so called “real men” are like. All I know is, when I hire a plasterer, the Mediterranean guy won’t be there, although he promised, and the Turkish guy will. Generally spoken that is. Of course there are exeptions. Try to live in a country in which you have to rely on exeptions. Generalizations will bring you much further and save you a whole lot of “surprises”.
          Bienvenu al la France, Madame.

          1. How very interesting, Jack. Oddly, though, I have never found the Arab, or what you call the “Mediterranean guy” any less reliable than the Turk. I HAVE found among Turks, however, a shocking level of racism leveled at anyone who was not a Turk, and a particularly virulent racism directed at Kurds, though I have never found such a thing in Arabs, or “Mediterranean guys”. In fact, what I have found generally speaking in your “Mediterranean guys” is a pluralistic view of society that most Americans would do well to emulate.

            And by the way, how does a Sephardic Jew end up with a Dutch name, whether made up or real?

          2. As you are located in France, I would prefer a glass of wine, if that’s okay.

          3. Shirin, to begin with I do not mean to say “Arabs” when I say “Mediterranean”. If you look at the map of the Mediterranean, you will notice that no Arab country is bordering this sea, unless you call the Lebanese or the Egyptians “Arabs”, which I wouldn’t recommend.
            My Sephardic background makes me a “Mediterranean”, so you could call might me a self-hating Mediterranean. I’m a self-hating Jew already, according to some people, so what the heck. 🙂
            Your experiences with Turks are all yours. I don’t have them.
            To answer your question about my Dutch name, being a Sephardic Jew, you can have it two ways: a simple answer, which is “I’m a bastard”, or the truth, which is a little more complicated and has to do with expulsions, trying to build a new life under a different name in a different country, travelling under the flag of Huguenotes, etc. My original family name is Pinto.

          4. Pinto is a very Dutch name, if you know what I mean: When I was in Madeira with my husband, we kept looking at the names of the shops and remarked: “Unbelievable; everyone here seems to come from Amsterdam!”. (Pinto, Pereira, Spinoza, da Costa, Lopez Cardozo etc.)

          5. LOL! Elisabeth, there’s nothing Dutch about these names, as they’re all Spanish/Portuguese, and came with the Sephardic Jews who were welcomed in Holland after 1492, during the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions.

          6. If you look at the map of the Mediterranean, you will notice that no Arab country is bordering this sea, unless you call the Lebanese or the Egyptians “Arabs”, which I wouldn’t recommend.

            Wow, Jack, you do not impress even a little bit either with your knowledge of geography or of Lebanon and Egypt.

            1. Arab countries bordering on the Mediterranean sea include (working from memory here counter-clockwise along the coast, forgive me if I miss or get any in the wrong order):

            Palestine (Gaza)

            That’s seven Arab countries that border on the Mediterranean, eight if you count Palestine as a country. A far cry from “no Arab country is bordering on this sea”, wouldn’t you say? Oh, and by the way, I don’t only have to rely on my memory of the map. I have touched, swum/waded in and/or traveled on the Mediterranean waters from the coast of most of these countries at one time or another, and in some cases have photographs to prove it.

            As for calling the Lebanese or Egyptians Arabs, it sounds like the only Lebanese you know are a particular genre of Maronites who oddly insist they are Phoenicians. Odd, too, that you do not know any better than to suggest that the country that has historically (and at times obnoxiously) prided itself on being the “leader of the Arab world” is not an Arab country.

          7. Shirin, I’m afraid you’re mixing things up a little. The countries you mentioned are Islam, not Arab. Most of the countries you mentioned are Northern African. Others are Levant.
            As I’m not a religious person, I don’t call Islamic countries “Arab”. Some of my roots are Indonesian, and although the population of this country is 90% Islam, I wouldn’t think of calling Indonesia an Arab country.

          8. Jack, you are not helping yourself at all here.
            With every comment on this subject you are demonstrating how little you know and understand, not how much.

            Of course Indonesia is not an Arab country, and neither are Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, or Iran. No one with any knowledge or sense has ever suggested they were. Likewise, no one with any knowledge or sense would suggest that the eight countries I listed are NOT Arab countries. They 1) identify themselves as Arab countries, 2) have Arabic as their primary official language, 3) are members of the Arab League, 4) are considered part of the Arab world virtually universally. I would say that your claim that they are not Arab countries is utter rubbish that does not stand up to even a split second’s worth of scrutiny.

          9. That is the problem with this mode of communication, isn’t it? You think people will know how you mean things, and you yourself think you understand the mood of the people whose messages you read, but tone of voice and facial expressions are missing. It just shows how essential these things are.
            Anyway, you should visit the Portuguese synagoge in Amsterdam some time (if you haven’t already). One of the prides of the city.

          10. Shirin, I’m talking DNA here. Not ethnics. And if you really want to picture me as stupid, go ahead, I’ve got no problems with that. There are different approaches in different cultures when it comes to categorize peoples, and in my culture my point of view wouldn’t be dissonant. It’s the same as the pronounciaton of Latin. When I talk Latin in France, Italy or Spain, there’s nothing wrong it. If I talk Latin in the U.K. or the U.S., people laugh at me, because I’m not pronouncing it like they do.
            Laugh at me Shirin, be my guest.

          11. Thanks Elisabeth!
            I know the Portuguese “shul”, a good friend of mine lives practically next to it. I’m from Amsterdam myself, grew up in the Nieuwmarkt area, with a rich Jewish history.

          12. Leuk! Je herkent me aan de rode roos in het knoopsgat van m’n spijkerjack! 🙂

          13. Shirin, I’m talking DNA here. Not ethnics.

            And I am talking reality. The DNA argument is as silly as any other. The countries of the Arab world are all more or less diverse, most of them consisting of many different groups, all of which have mixed together genetically more or less freely throughout a millennium or more. If a country identifies itself as an Arab country, belongs to the Arab League, has a majority population that identifies as Arab, has Arabic as its primary language, is culturally Arab, and is universally identified as Arab, then who on earth do you think you are to insist that it is not Arab but something else?

            And if you really want to picture me as stupid…

            I have never suggested that you are stupid.

            There are different approaches in different cultures when it comes to categorize peoples, and in my culture my point of view wouldn’t be dissonant.

            Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, however misplaced it may be.

            It’s the same as the pronounciaton of Latin. When I talk Latin in France, Italy or Spain, there’s nothing wrong it. If I talk Latin in the U.K. or the U.S., people laugh at me, because I’m not pronouncing it like they do.

            This analogy is no better than your attempt to make an analogy between the eight Arab League members I listed and Indonesia as Muslim and not Arab countries.

          14. Afgesproken. Dan klem ik er een tussen mijn tanden. (Of een tulp.)

            And by the way: Shirin always wins!

          15. “Bienvenu al la France, Madame”
            3 mistakes in a sentence with 4 words, that’s pretty good 🙂
            “Bienvenue en France, Madame” is the correct sentence.
            So sticking to your own use of ethnic stereotypes, I could proclaim that Sephardic Jews are hopeless when writing foreign languages 😀
            By the way, I do think that stereotypical charactisations of ethnic groups are to handle with much care.

          16. Okay Deïr, you win too.
            Can anyone please explain to me what all this has to do with the eyewitness report of an Al Jazeera camera man?
            Or shall we just change the subject to “Jack bashing? Here’s your chance!”?
            (I’m sure you’ll be able to find much more of my spelling mistakes, and you won’t even have to look close.)

          17. Can anyone please explain to me what all this has to do with the eyewitness report of an Al Jazeera camera man?
            Or shall we just change the subject to “Jack bashing? Here’s your chance!”?

            Pardon me, Jack, but is it a habit of yours to introduce an irrelevancy into a conversation (in this case stereotyping Turks, and – negatively – “Mediterranean types”), and then complain that people are not sticking to the subject when you are called on it? Or is that a part of the Dutch-Sephardic character? :o}

          18. Exacly, Shirin. You got my point. I have to admit that yesterday when I read our ‘Jack de Nice’ giving his racialist definition of an Arab, I fell down my chair. He must have been influenced by those Zionists who try to convince us that contemporary Israelis are direct descendents of the Ancient Hebrew.

  13. I’m devastated by this incident, and the fact that the Israeli Navy intercepted the Rachel Corrie tonight. I haven’t felt this bad since the invasion of Gaza.

    I remember after a couple of weeks into that gratuitous slaughter and absolute devastation, watching a video, showing a baby mutilated and charred, and another baby buried in rubble, and yet others on hospital beds with phosphorous burns covering their little bodies. I was in such anguish. I cried. I screamed in frustration: “Why doesn’t someone stop this?! Why are governments allowing these crimes to carry on day after day??”

    Today I have the sinking feeling of despair. I don’t understand this kind of injustice. I don’t understand how anyone can continue to support Israel or Zionism when such crimes are committed on their behalf. Is it worth it?? Is all this pain and suffering inflicted on so many for so long WORTH IT?? I don’t understand such inhumanity or how anyone can support so much cruelty laced with deception.

    I’m beyond words. I’m just so outraged and appalled; and very discouraged. What will it take to end this?!

    An American teen was shot in the chest and four times in the head execution style and still Israel is allowed to continue this inhumane blockade!! What kind of world allows this to happen and does NOTHING???

  14. According to this:
    http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3899179,00.html (Hebrew), the White House called on the crew of Rachel Corrie to anchor at Ashdod and transfer the humanitarian aid stuff they are carrying via Israel.
    Now, that’s ridiculous! The destination of the Rachel Corrie is Gaza, not Israel, and some of the people on the board may be from countries that prohibit their citizens to visit Israel. The crew was ready to undergo inspection in the open sea, under int’l supervision, to verify that it carries no war supplies. The White House effectively suggests that some people aboard the Rachel Corrie should violate the laws of their own countries, for no other reason but Israel’s desire to show that it has the upper hand in the matter. And once I thought that Obama’s approach to Israel will be balanced…

    1. The Rachel Corrie is not an US ship, and to my knowledge there were no Americans aboard, so the US had no business telling this boat where to dock. However, they could have used their considerable muscle to ensure the safe docking of the boat in Gaza; they could have also used it to ensure that the massacre on the Mavi Marmara never took place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link