‘Free Gaza’ Flotilla Greets IDF Forces With Armed Ambush

Israeli naval forces intercepted the “Free Gaza” flotilla around 2:00 AM on Monday morning and, upon boarding the flagship of the six vessel convoy, discovered some passengers were “anything but peace activists,” as the IDF personnel were met by a “well-planned lynch,” leaving at least 10 people dead and dozens more injured in the ensuing melee.

 Although some Arabic media reports claim the Israeli troops opened fire upon boarding, the IDF insists that its troops were first attacked by a mob of activists on board the Mavi Marmara armed with knives, bats, and metal pipes, and that shots were also fired at the IDF forces. An initial IDF statement added that activists also began shooting with a gun wrested from an IDF soldier.

 “The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose,” said the IDF Spokesman. “As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.”

 “It was like a well-planned lynch,” one IDF officer said. “These people were anything but peace activists.”

 According to early reports, at least ten pro-Palestinian activists were killed and dozens more were wounded in the resulting skirmish, while six naval personnel were injured, one suffering a critical head wound. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners, were being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel. Foreign reports claim that the number of dead may be up to 19.

Al Jazeera on Monday broadcast footage from the Mavi Marmara showing Israeli Navy commandos rappelling down ropes from a hovering helicopter and boarding the ship.

 After the skirmish, all passengers were ordered inside the cabins, and the IDF indicated the incident is not considered over as some activists may still be armed.  The IDF is towing the ships to the port of Ashdod, where the cargo will be inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip via land crossings, despite this morning’s violence. In the coming hours, Israeli authorities will identify the people on board the ships and most will be given the option of a free flight home or being arrested. Israel is braced for rioting by Israeli Arabs today as the leader of the radical Islamic Movement in Israel was wounded in the clash and is undergoing an urgent operation.  

 Activists aboard the ships had repeatedly said beforehand that they would not respond with violence to the navy’s interception of their flotilla.

 Al-Jazeera reported Turkish leaders called an emergency meeting to discuss responses to the attack at sea. The Israeli ambassador in Turkey was called in to offer explanations.

Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh also came on Al-Jazeera to condemn the “brutal attack” and called on the UN to intervene on the activists’ behalf.

“The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip,” noted the IDF. “In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.” 

From ICEJ News 

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