Israeli version of events doesn’t pass laugh test

on 12 Comments

Moshe Yaroni dissects the Israeli response:

Here’s what the IDF spokesperson said, in part:

During the intercept of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire. Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

I am sure, as is always the case, there will be those who believe this version of events. But frankly, I can’t see how anyone can do so unless they are so desperate to justify Israel’s action here that they’ll believe anything. Let’s examine the IDF’s version of events.

We begin with the point that these were civilian ships and Israel boarded them with commandoes—soldiers who are disposed toward combat situations and are not meant to police unarmed civilians. They’re fighters, that’s their purpose. But the IDF claims that an assortment of international activists deliberately provoked a violent confrontation (using potentially deadly weapons, but which still leave them ridiculously overmatched) against heavily armed and trained soldiers in order to “lynch them.”

Does that seem remotely credible? It only seems so if you believe the activists on board these ships were willing to risk and actually sacrifice their lives in order to create a scandal for Israel. Of course, Israeli hasbara (propaganda) is well-practiced in casting all Arabs and Muslims as suicidal lunatics, aided by the suicide bombers who represent an infinitesimal percentage of those populations. But this collection of international activists, including many Jews, Americans and Europeans, apparently are also willing to give their lives, and rather cheaply, according to this story.

No, the IDF version of these events doesn’t begin to pass the laugh test.

When I first heard confirmed reports of this massacre, I thought of the Kent State shootings in 1970. That horrific tragedy, like this one, was the result of a government using ridiculously disproportionate force against civil disobedience.

But at Kent State, the shootings resulted from high tensions and one person losing control, causing others to follow his lead. Was that the case here?

12 Responses

  1. edwin
    May 31, 2010, 8:20 am

    There appears to have been a direct order to prepare to fire at Kent State.

    link to

    • Sumud
      May 31, 2010, 7:09 pm

      There’s no ambiguity about Israel’s intentions.

      One of the previous ships was raided in the middle of the night, so the Free Gaza organisers deliberately stayed in international waters, planning to enter Gazan waters during daylight. Instead the navy came out into int’l waters because raid was of the shock and awe variety and depended on the cover of night.

      Communications were blocked – can’t have any witness, and I wonder what’s become of the activists cameras and videos. Is that evidence now being systematically erased by the IDF? If it is it will blow up in Israel’s face. There’s only so many good people you can piss off before they decide to fight back That number of pissed off good people will increase dramatically after this.

  2. Oscar
    May 31, 2010, 8:24 am

    Phil, there’s no “laugh test” here. Maybe a “gasp test” but this changes everything. What a self-destructive act.

  3. sam
    May 31, 2010, 8:33 am

    Now on Al-Jazeera some Israeli is saying 16 soldiers have been injured. Just some more failure on the laugh test. But there are new images from an Israeli helicopter showing an aerial view. There does seem to be some resistance from those on board – as there should be in response to such force! I’m sure Jazeera will repeat the footage. Check it out on

  4. Elliot
    May 31, 2010, 8:46 am

    …naval forces employed riot dispersal means…
    That’s where the IDF version falls apart. As you wrote, if you want professional riot dispersal you send in the cops, not elite commandos who are trained to kill.

    It continues to astound me how Israel always sees its heavily armed and highly trained military as the victim. How sad that will all their might, Israelis still live emotionally in the old mindset of the poor Jew facing the mob. Wasn’t Zionism supposed to cure Jews of this inferiority complex?
    Perhaps they should try living in the Diaspora for a while.

  5. potsherd
    May 31, 2010, 9:16 am

    If they can’t take on a few unarmed protestors, wait till they have to face the Turkish navy.

    The Turkish troops were the most feared of all the allied troops in the Korean War.

    • Les
      May 31, 2010, 3:31 pm

      And as prisoners, most resistant to the propaganda of their Korean and Chinese captors.

      • demize
        June 1, 2010, 12:34 am

        I said this in another thread, they decimated the British at Galipoli.

  6. lobewyper
    May 31, 2010, 9:41 am

    The truth re: the incident will eventually be revealed, and the Israelis are going to wind up with much more than egg on their faces.

  7. Les
    May 31, 2010, 1:46 pm

    The latest from Haaretz:

    Netanyahu: I regret Gaza flotilla deaths, but Israeli troops had right to self-defense

  8. kapok
    May 31, 2010, 1:55 pm

    Doubtless, the I”D”F goaded someone into lashing back. That’s their style.

  9. Sumud
    May 31, 2010, 7:02 pm

    Knives and sticks wouldn’t be the weapon of choice if the flotilla activists had been planning an armed response.

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