In raw video, reporters claim Israelis fired on activists before boarding ship
May 31st, 2010 -- 6:49 pm
In what could be a serious blow to Israel's cover story on the murder of
at least nine humanitarian activists making their way to Gaza through
international waters, raw video by an Al Jazeera producer, who was
filming during the raid, appears to provide evidence that the IDF opened
fire on the flotilla even before boarding it.
Israeli forces assert they came under attack by the pro-Palestine civilian group, and video
released by the IDF
appears to show one soldier being tossed
overboard amid a scuffle with unidentified individuals wielding melee
weapons, like clubs and chairs.
However, in raw video captured by an Al Jazeera producer and published to YouTube late Monday, two
journalists provide a play-by-play of the harrowing event as pops and
cracks echo in the background. Even before the Israeli forces were
aboard, one says, they were pelting the boat with tear gas and stun
grenades, injuring numerous people.
Then he confirms the first death, saying the individual was killed by "munitions," but not
specifying whether it was a bullet or something else. Moments later he
confirms that Israeli forces were boarding the ship.
Another of the reporters featured in the video works for the Iranian network
Press TV. "We are being hit by tear gas, stun grenades, we have navy
ships on either side, helicopters overhead," he said. "We are being
attacked from every single side. This is in international waters, not
Israeli waters, not in the 68-mile exclusion zone. We are being attacked
in international waters completely illegally."
"The organizers are telling me now, they are raising a white flag -- they are raising a
white flag to the Israeli army," the Al Jazeera reporter said. "This is
after one person has been killed; a civilian has been killed by
munition. That number could be more ... Despite the white flag being
raised, despite the white flag being raised, the Israeli army is still
shooting, still firing live munitions."
Early reports put the number of victims between 9 and 19, with dozens injured. The actual number is not yet known, as the IDF took all the Gaza aid flotilla
participants into custody.
"Our soldiers had to defend themselves, to defend their lives," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
reportedly said. Other Israeli officials have called the charity
organization responsible a group of "extremist supporters of terror."
The IDF also alleged that weapons were found onboard, calling the act
and the resulting violence a "provocation."
However, if these reporters' immediate accounting of the events proves accurate, the truth of Israel's claim that they opened fire in self defense would seem to
be in doubt.
This video was published to YouTube by user WilliamTomg
on May 31, 2010.
The action sparked protests around the world within hours.
In Turkey crowds took to the streets in several cities to vent fury after the
storming of a Turkish passenger boat in the flotilla that left at least
nine dead, most of them believed to be Turkish nationals.
"Damn Israel!", "A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, revenge, revenge!"
yelled protesters in Istanbul where about 10,000 people converged on the
central Taksim square after marching from the Israeli consulate.
"Turkish soldiers to Gaza," shouted some, as others torched Israeli flags.
"I call on the government to expel the Israeli consul... And if necessary,
we are ready for war," Seref Mangal, 40, told AFP. A banner carried by
the crowd read: "Close down the Zionist embassy."
In the capital Ankara about 1,000 people gathered outside the residence of Israeli
ambassador Gabby Levy and shouted "Damn the Zionist murderers!" and
"Israel will drown in the blood of the martyrs!".
They threw eggs and plastic bottles into the garden of the residency. Reports said
demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country.
In London more than 1,000 people -- some of whom had friends on the ships
carrying aid to blockaded Gaza -- protested outside the residence of
British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Israeli embassy.
Chanting "Free Palestine" and brandishing the Palestinian flag and banners
condemning Israeli "war crimes", activists blocked a major route through
the capital. Hundreds of police stood guard outside the embassy.
"We have close friends on the boat on which people were killed and we are
here waiting for news," said Kate Hudson, the chairwoman of the Campaign
for Nuclear Disarmament.
In Paris about 500 people joined a noisy protest near the Israeli embassy, waving Palestinian flags and shouting
"Palestine will survive, Palestine will conquer".
Scuffles broke out when a dozen rival protestors waving Israeli flags approached,
prompting police to fire tear gas, but calm was soon restored. Another
1,300 people rallied in the city of Lille.
Greek police used tear gas to force back around 1,500 protesters outside the Israeli embassy in
Athens, while another 2,000 people rallied in the northern city of
In Lebanon thousands of Palestinian refugees and activists waving Palestinian flags and banners marched in the country's
12 refugee camps.
"Where is the international community? Where are human rights?" they chanted in the Al-Bass camp in the southern coastal
city of Tyre.
In Beirut hundreds gathered in the city centre called on Israeli embassies in the Arab world to be shut down and for Israeli ambassadors to be expelled.
At a demonstration of about 3,000 people at the Beddawi camp in the northern city of Tripoli, anger
also turned on Israel's traditional ally, the United States.
"God is great and America is the greatest evil," they chanted. "Give us
weapons, give us weapons and send us on to Gaza."
There were even demonstrations inside Israel, where hundreds of protestors flooded the
streets of the northern Arab city of Nazareth as Israeli police raised
the level of alert across the country and deployed reinforcements.
More than 2,000 people in Amman protested what Jordan's Information Minister
Nabil Sharif dubbed a "heinous crime".
Demonstrators included Islamist opposition leaders and carried banners that read "We Will not
Surrender" and "Break Gaza Blockade." They also demanded that Jordan
shut down the Jewish state's embassy and expel the Israeli ambassador.
In Iran's capital Tehran, dozens of people pelted stones at the UN office
chanting: "This savage regime of Israel must be wiped out."
They burnt the Israeli flag and tore up pictures of US Secretary of State
In Pakistan politicians, lawmakers and journalists staged a peaceful protest in Islamabad, denouncing the killings and calling on the United Nations and the United States to
Hundreds of Bosnians marched through Sarajevo, brandishing Palestinian flags. "We wanted to raise our voice to denounce a new attempt at genocide in modern times," one of the organisers,
Edvin Cudic, told Srna news agency.
Around 200 people demonstrated outside the UN's European headquarters in Geneva demanding an inquiry
into the raid, while in the Netherlands 400 rallied outside the Israeli
embassy in The Hague.
There were also protests in Egypt while in Kuwait activists were planning rallies.
After Israeli PM Netanyahu canceled a planned meeting with President Obama, the White House
stressed the importance of "learning all the facts" before jumping to