On Saturday the London Independent called attention to an account published in the Jersusalem Post of an Israeli naval commando, "S," who claimed he personally had killed six of the nine who died in Israel's May 31 attack on the Freedom Flotilla. -- According to the account, posted below, "S" is "being considered for a medal of valor." -- The *Post* account by Yaakov Katz is highly propagandistic, filled with ungrounded assertions about activists being "well-trained mercenaries" who were "likely ex-military," who were "split into a number of squads of about 20," who "threw their weapons overboard after the commandos took control of the vessel," and who supposedly "were affiliated with international global jihad elements and had undergone training in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan." -- As for evidence, Robert Fisk commented in the London Independent on Saturday that the IDF has confiscated all the video shot by journalists aboard the Freedom Flotilla. -- Fisk recalled previous atrocities in which Israeli commandos have been involved and that he has witnessed. -- "The amazing thing in all this," Fisk said, "is that so many Western journalists -- and I'm including the BBC's pusillanimous coverage of the Gaza aid ships -- are writing like Israeli journalists." ...
I KILLED SIX OF THE TERROR NINE, COMMANDO TELLS NEWSPAPER
June 5, 2010
An Israeli naval commando, said to have shot dead six of the nine people killed on the Turkish ship carrying activists heading to Gaza, has given an account to an Israeli newspaper of the lethal events on the Mavi Marmara.
The staff-sergeant in the elite Shayetet 13 naval special forces unit -- named only as 'S' in the Jerusalem Post -- is quoted as saying he was immediately attacked when he reached the deck, the last of 15 commandos to come down by rope from a Blackhawk helicopter. He said he had not expected to find a "battlefield." The report says he saw three of his commandos lying wounded, one with a gunshot wound to the stomach and another who had been shot in the knee.
According to the paper, a third was lying unconscious, having been hit in the head with a metal bar. The Israeli military says that passengers opened fire with pistols stolen from earlier naval boarders, an accusation denied by the flotilla's organizers. S took charge, the paper says, pushing wounded soldiers against the wall of the upper deck and created a perimeter of soldiers around them to treat their wounds. He says he pulled out his 9mm Glock pistol to "stave off" the attackers and protect the wounded commandos.
"When I hit the deck, I was immediately attacked by people with bats, metal pipes, and axes," S said. "These were without a doubt terrorists. I could see the murderous rage in their eyes and that they were coming to kill us."
The paper says S was accompanied to the interview by his senior officer, Lieutenant-Colonel T, who said: "S did a remarkable job. He stabilized the situation and succeeded in hitting six of the terrorists."
The other three were killed by other commandos. The paper reports that the commandos said they opened fire within a minute and half of boarding the ship because of the "extreme violence."
'WE HAD NO CHOICE'
By Yaakov Katz
** 'Mavi Marmara' raid commando: "They had murder in their eyes." **
June 4, 2010
When St.-Sgt. S. fast-roped down from an air force Black Hawk helicopter onto the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship on Monday morning, he did not expect to be landing in what he called “a battlefield” and facing off against a group of “murderous mercenaries.”
The 15th and last naval commando from Flotilla 13 (the Shayetet) to rappel down onto the ship from the helicopter, S. said on Thursday that he was immediately attacked by what the IDF has called “the mob of mercenaries” aboard the vessel, just like the soldiers who had boarded just before him.
Looking to his side, he saw three of his commanders lying wounded -- one with a gunshot wound to the stomach and another with a gunshot wound to the knee. A third was lying unconscious; his skull was fractured by a devastating blow with a metal bar.
As the next in the chain of command, S., who has been in the Shayetet for three and a half years, immediately took charge.
He pushed the wounded soldiers up against the wall of the upper deck and created a perimeter of soldiers around them to begin treating their wounds, he said. He then arranged his men to form a second perimeter, and pulled out his 9 mm. Glock pistol to stave off the charging attackers and to protect his wounded comrades.
The attackers had already seized two pistols from the commandos, and fired repeatedly at them. Facing more than a dozen of the mercenaries, and convinced their lives were in danger, he and his colleagues opened fire, he said. S. singlehandedly killed six men. His colleagues killed another three.
On Thursday, S. sat down with the Jerusalem Post at the Shayetet’s base in northern Israel for an exclusive interview, during which he described the dramatic events aboard the Mavi Marmara on Monday; he is being considered for a medal of valor.
“When I hit the deck, I was immediately attacked by people with bats, metal pipes, and axes,” S. told the Post. “These were without a doubt terrorists. I could see the murderous rage in their eyes and that they were coming to kill us.”
S. does not look like a hero. Well-built, like all commandos in the Shayetet, he is also soft-spoken and stingy with words, but his commander Lt.-Col. T. fills in the blanks.
“S. did a remarkable job,” T. said. “He stabilized the situation and succeeded in hitting six of the terrorists.”
Based on preliminary results of its investigation into the navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara, which ended with nine dead passengers and more than 30 wounded, the IDF said on Thursday that the commandos were attacked by a well-trained group of mercenaries, most of whom were found without IDs but with thousands of dollars in their pockets.
The group was well trained and was split into a number of squads of about 20 mercenaries each distributed throughout the upper deck, the IDF said. All of the mercenaries wore gas masks and ceramic bulletproof vests and were armed with either bats, slingshots, metal bars, knives or stun grenades.
The IDF’s understanding is that the mercenaries mainly chose dual-purpose items of this sort rather than guns, since opening fire would have made it blatantly clear that they were terrorists and not so-called peace activists.
Nevertheless, the IDF suspects that the group did have some guns of its own. Israeli forensic experts who examined the ship found casings belonging to a weapon that was not used by the commandos, and the Turkish captain of the ship later told the IDF that the “mercenaries” threw their weapons overboard after the commandos took control of the vessel.
T. said he realized the group they were facing was well-trained and likely ex-military after the commandos threw a number of stun grenades and fired warning shots before rappelling down onto the deck. “They didn’t even flinch,” he said. “Regular people would move.”
Each squad of the “mercenaries” was equipped with a Motorola communication device, the IDF said, so they could pass information to one another. Assessments in the defense establishment are that members of the group were affiliated with international global jihad elements and had undergone training in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
S. on Thursday downplayed his involvement in the operation. “I did what I was trained to do and now I move on,” he said.
In contrast to earlier reports, the commandos said that they began using their weapons within a minute and a half after boarding the ship, due to the extreme violence they faced. One of the reasons S. pulled out his gun right after landing on the ship was because one of the mercenaries was pointing a pistol, snatched from one of the commandos, at another commando’s head.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE ISRAELI PROPAGANDA
by Robert Fisk
June 5, 2010
I have, of course, been outraged at armed men boarding ships in international waters, killing passengers on board who attempt to resist, and then forcing their ship to the hijackers' home port. I am, of course, talking about the Somali pirates who are preying on Western ships in the Indian Ocean. How dare those terrorists dare to touch our unarmed vessels on the high seas? And how right we are to have our warships there to prevent such terrorist acts.
But whoops! At least the Israelis have not demanded ransom. They just want to get journalists to win the propaganda war for them. Scarcely had the week begun when Israel's warrior "commandos" stormed a Turkish boat bringing aid to Gaza and shot nine of the passengers dead. Yet by week's end, the protesters had become "armed peace activists," vicious anti-Semites "professing pacifism, seething with hate, pounding away at another human being with a metal pole." I liked the last bit. The fact that the person being beaten was apparently shooting another human being with a rifle didn't quite get into this weird version of reality.
Turkish family protests that their sons wanted to be martyrs -- something which most Turkish family members might say if their relatives had been shot by the Israelis -- had been transformed into confirmation that they had been jihadis. "On that aid ship," a Sri Lankan texted me this week, "I had my niece, nephew and his wife on board. Unfortunately Ahmed (20-year-old nephew) got shot in the leg and now treated (sic) under military custody. I will keep you posted." He did indeed. Within hours, the press was at his family's home in Australia, demanding to know if Ahmed was a jihadi -- or even a potential suicide bomber. Propaganda works, you see. We haven't seen a frame of film from the protesters because the Israelis have stolen the lot. No one has told us -- if the Turkish ship was carrying such ruthless men -- how their terrible plots to help the "terrorists" of Gaza were not uncovered in the long voyage from Turkey, even when it called at other ports. But Professor Gil Troy of McGill University in Montreal -- in the rabid Canadian National Post, of course -- was able to spout all that gunk about "armed peace activists" on Thursday.
I wasn't personally at all surprised at the killings on the Turkish ship. In Lebanon, I've seen this indisciplined rabble of an army -- as "élite" as the average rabble of Arab armies -- shooting at civilians. I saw them watching the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinians on the morning of 18 September (the last day of the slaughter) by their vicious Lebanese militia allies. I was present at the Qana massacre by Israeli gunners in 1996 -- "Arabushim" (the equivalent of the abusive term "Ayrab" in English), one of the gunners called the 106 dead civilians, more than half of them children, in the Israeli press. Then the Israeli government of Nobel laureate Shimon Peres said there were terrorists among the dead civilians -- totally untrue, but who cares? -- and then came the second Qana massacre in 2006 and then the 2008-09 Gaza slaughter of 1,300 Palestinians, most of them children, and then . . .
Well, then came the Goldstone report, which found that Israeli troops (as well as Hamas) committed war crimes in Gaza, but this was condemned as anti-Semitic -- poor old honourable Goldstone, himself a prominent Jewish jurist from South Africa, slandered as "an evil man" by the raving Al Dershowitz of Harvard -- and was called "controversial" by the brave Obama administration. "Controversial", by the way, basically means "fuck you."
There's doubts about it, you see. It's dodgy stuff.
But back to our chronology. Then we had the Mossad murder of a Hamas official in Dubai with the Israelis using at least 19 forged passports from Britain and other countries. And the pathetic response of our then foreign secretary, David Miliband? He called it "an incident" -- not the murder of the guy in Dubai, mind you, just the forgery of U.K. passports, a highly "controversial" matter -- and then . . . Well, now we've had the shooting down of nine passengers at sea by more Israeli heroes.
The amazing thing in all this is that so many Western journalists -- and I'm including the BBC's pusillanimous coverage of the Gaza aid ships -- are writing like Israeli journalists, while many Israeli journalists are writing about the killings with the courage that Western journalists should demonstrate. And about the Israeli army itself. Take Amos Harel's devastating report in Haaretz which analyses the make-up of the Israeli army's officer corps. In the past, many of them came from the leftist kibbutzim tradition, from greater Tel Aviv or from the coastal plain of Sharon. In 1990, only 2 per cent of army cadets were religious Orthodox Jews. Today the figure is 30 per cent. Six of the seven lieutenant-colonels in the Golani Brigade are religious. More than 50 per cent of local commanders are "national" religious in some infantry brigades.
There's nothing wrong with being religious. But -- although Harel does not make this point quite so strongly -- many of the Orthodox are supporters of the colonization of the West Bank and thus oppose a Palestinian state.
And the Orthodox colonists are the Israelis who most hate the Palestinians, who want to erase the chances of a Palestinian state as surely as some Hamas officials would like to erase Israel. Ironically, it was senior officers of the "old" Israeli army who first encouraged the "terrorist" Hamas to build mosques in Gaza -- as a counterbalance to the "terrorist" Yasser Arafat up in Beirut -- and I was a witness to one of their meetings. But it will stay the same old story before the world wakes up. "I have never known an army as democratic as Israel's," the hapless French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy said a few hours before the slaughter.
Yes, the Israeli army is second to none, élite, humanitarian, heroic. Just don't tell the Somali pirates.