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Video: Israelis fired on activists BEFORE boarding ship ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By Stephen C. Webster
Raw Story
Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010

Update: Turkey will reportedly send military escort with future Gaza aid boats

In what could be a serious blow to Israel's narrative on the killing 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. Then 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 nine and 19, with dozens injured. (Update: Figures from major wire services put the number at 10, but it may yet change.) The actual number has not yet been confirmed, as the IDF took all the Gaza aid flotilla participants into custody. Numerous victims were reported to be from Turkey. Palestinian leadership called the incident a "war crime." Israeli ally Turkey also pledged their regional neighbor will "face the consequences" for the killings and reportedly planned to send military escort with a future Gaza aid flotilla.

"At least four Israeli soldiers were wounded in the operation, some from gunfire, according to the military," The New York Times added.

"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 on board and that activists opened fire first, calling the the resulting violence a result of "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.

Portions of the raw video were featured by Al Jazeera and AFP, although the beginning segment and the most clear allegations that Israel opened fire before boarding were not included in their entirety.

Raw Story

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