The Israel military sources confirmed 10 dead activists on the ship heading to Gaza. Some international media outputs speak of as many as 16. As the news is making headlines across the globe, the two sides are producing contradicting accounts of the events.
What happened on the ship after the warning of the Israeli Navy is still unclear. Mavi Marmara was the lead ship of Freedom Flotilla which was heading for Gaza with the mission to break the blockade.
Israeli officials state that the military was provoked into using force. “Unfortunately this group were dead-set on confrontation,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the BBC.
Also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs produced a statement referring to the “life-threatening and violent activity” of the activists as an incentive for the attack, also linking to a Youtube clip of the confrontation.
The organisers of the Freedom Flotilla, say that the military started the violence:
“At about 4:30 am, Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto deck of Turkish ship, immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians,” said a post on the group’s Twitter page, according to CNN.
Al-Jazeera’s reporter sent a report from during the night, describing the situation on the ship being boarded by the military.
The implications of what has transpired are yet to be seen. What makes matters worse, is that the confrontation is said to have taken place on international waters.
Gideon Levy, the editor of Haaretz, one of Israel’s most influential newspaper, and an open opponent of the blockade, filed on Sunday an opinion piece where he reflected on the true impact of the Flotilla on the image of Israel:
Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won’t even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing. Again we will be portrayed not only as the ones that have blocked assistance, but also as fools who do everything to even further undermine our own standing.