Gaza flotilla attacks: What do the videos show?
Pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups are parsing video footage of the Gaza flotilla attacks to push forward competing narratives. Calls are coming for an independent investigation.
A public relations battle is raging between Palestinian and Israeli groups over the Gaza flotilla attacks, with both groups parsing video footage of the events to serve their own interests.Skip to next paragraph
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Pro-Palestinian groups say the deaths of at least nine activists are evidence of Israel's violent and excessive policies. Pro-Israel activists, meanwhile, say Israeli commandos were attacked by pro-Palestinian activists armed with slingshots, knives, and metal bars as the commandos rappelled from helicopters down onto the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the aid ships.
For evidence, both sides are pointing to several videos. One, from Al Jazeera, shows the raid from the perspective of activists aboard the Mavi Marmara. Several more videos are from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which are from the point of view of Israeli soldiers as they encounter violent resistance from activists.
Having viewed all the videos, it is clear that none of the participants acted peacefully. Yet all sides are eager to use the video footage to put forward their own narrative of events.
The Israeli version
Of the six vessels, only the Mavi Marmara refused orders from Israel to reroute to the Israeli port at Ashdod, says Rony Yedidia, deputy consul general of the Israeli consulate in Boston. "Our forces had to board the ship," she says, adding that forces were then "ambushed" when they rappelled from helicopters down onto the vessel. However, retired US diplomat Edward Peck told ABC News that Israeli commandos also seized control of his ship – in addition to the Mavi Marmara – after overcoming resistance from some of the passengers.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted several videos on its website and also on YouTube, along with the headline: "IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla 31-May-2010." This grainy, black-and-white footage shows Israeli commandos getting attacked in what the Foreign Ministry calls "life-threatening and violent activity." One soldier is thrown overboard:
"The people on the boats were not on a purely humanitarian mission," says Ms. Yedidia of the Israeli consulate. "They were there to provoke Israeli forces."
Another IDF video shows the weapons discovered aboard the Mavi Marmara and purportedly used against the Israeli soldiers: firecrackers, slingshots, several sacks of marbles, metal poles, and several dozen knives and large wrenches.