Israel releases new videos of Gaza flotilla raid
A new video released Wednesday by the Israeli government shows its troops withstanding a water hose and flying plates from activists aboard the Mavi Marmara during the Gaza flotilla raid.
Boston — The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a new video of the Gaza flotilla attacks that shows activists aboard the Mavi Marmara spraying water at a boat of Israeli soldiers as it tries to intercept their ship.
The video, which was filmed from aboard the Mavi Marmara, shows activists aboard the ship tossing a stun grenade at the Israeli boat and using chains and metal bars to prevent the Israeli soldiers from climbing aboard.
The video was carefully edited. Red circles point out the activists' makeshift weapons and a slow-motion sequence highlights the exploding grenade.
It had 330 views as of Wednesday morning (Boston time). Another video released Tuesday was taken from aboard the Israeli Navy vessel, allowing you to hear the frightened shouts of soldiers. One yells, "It's coming from all directions!" This one has attracted 170,000 views.
But the most popular video, with nearly 950,000 views as of today, was released May 31 on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website and YouTube. It shows Israeli commandos rappelling down onto the Mavi Marmara and being attacked by activists on the ship.
Yet another government video, which shows several piles of slingshots and metal bars and knives aboard the Mavi Marmara, had attracted more than 161,000 views as of Wednesday morning.
See both videos at: Gaza flotilla attacks: What do the videos show?
Today's video is the latest in an unfolding PR war between Israeli and Palestinian groups as the Israeli government attempts to portray the commandos who rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara as victims of violent attack. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said today in a statement: "The cabinet places full responsibility for the incident on those who started the violence which clearly placed the soldiers' lives in danger."
While no soldiers died, at least nine of the activists were killed in the skirmish aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of six humanitarian vessels that was trying to break a three-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
In turn, activists have released their own videos on YouTube, edited to show the excessive force Israeli soldiers used against the activists on the Mavi Marmara.
Meanwhile, journalists appear to be having difficulty showing an independent take on the events. At least 15 foreign journalists traveling with the flotilla were detained by Israeli forces, according to Reporters Without Borders, which said it "strongly condemns the censorship attempts" of the raid.
"We urge the Israeli authorities to release the detained journalists and allow them unrestricted access to the Gaza Strip. The international community needs accurate information about this Palestinian Territory,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
With the released videos carefully edited to portray competing narratives of victim and aggressor, it remains unclear who initiated the violence. The UN Security Council on Tuesday called for an impartial investigation into the incident.
But what is missing so far from the flotilla clips on both sides is context: it is difficult to establish the sequence of events or, more simply, to determine who attacked first. The videos have made it all the more murky.
“On a matter like this, public opinion is awfully important, in terms of determining which image is really going to last,” said Jim Hoge, the editor of Foreign Affairs, who observed that there had been a gradual increase in the use of video clips to bear witness and shape opinion.