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Brutal ambush at sea

Ron Ben-Yishai

Published:     05.31.10, 15:44 / Israel News

Our Navy commandoes fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.
One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
‘I saw the tip of a rifle’

The Navy commandoes were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.

The planned rush towards the vessel’s bridge became impossible, even when a second chopper was brought in with another crew of soldiers. “Throw stun grenades,” shouted Flotilla 13’s commander who monitored the operation. The Navy chief was not too far, on board a speedboat belonging to Flotilla 13, along with forces who attempted to climb into the back of the ship.
The forces hurled stun grenades, yet the rioters on the top deck, whose number swelled up to 30 by that time, kept on beating up about 30 commandoes who kept gliding their way one by one from the helicopter. At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.

Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes.

“I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him. We looked for him later but couldn’t find him.” Two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds to their knee and stomach after rioters apparently fired at them using guns wrested away from troops.

2 errors

During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.

Some passengers on the ship stood at the back and pounded the soldiers’ hands as they attempted to climb on board. Only after a 30-minute shootout and brutal assaults using clubs and knifes did commandoes manage to reach the bridge and take over the Marmara.

It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.

See also:

Flotilla invited to unload cargo

Gaza flotilla participants created war atmosphere

Gaza flotilla, maritime blockade of Gaza - legal background


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The IDF soldiers were extremely brave and followed orders. They achieved their results in minimum time and with minimum possible casualties. They are highly trained and where the blame lies is with the military/intelligence/government leadership which clearly did not handle this situation at all well!!! And left ... yet again...our poor brave soldiers...vulnerable in an impossible situation. But weak...never!

Posted by Ronit on 2010-06-01 11:51:28 GMT

Another pathetic display of weakness by the IDF - all they are trained for now is for beating up fellow Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Posted on 2010-06-01 11:45:48 GMT

As usual, the tiny nation is surrounded from all fronts. My heart goes out to the families of the dead. This was a provocation backed by leftist governments, terrorists, and of course the Muslim world. What amazes me is how quickly AlJezeera and others worldwide put the blame TOTALLY on Israel. Where are the sane people of this world?? How many of us are willing to say NO MORE LIES strongly?? It was a sickening act, shame on all who think this was necessary. Am Yisrael Chai!!

Posted by Lori Low on 2010-06-01 01:36:24 GMT

It's no coincidence that the notorious "Gaza aid" convoy departed from Turkey. It was certain to create an international incident that, no matter its severity, plays into the hands of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to further Islamize his country. The secular establishment has been under growing pressure by Erdogan's government almost from the moment he took office. Helped by the EU's demand that it conform with its model of democracy, Edogan's government weakened the "Deep State", the secular Turkish military, to ensure that it becomes powerless to stop the recidivism that Attaturk feared when the Turkish Republic was founded. Three times in the past, the Deep State deposed an elected government for their Islamist leanings. It's increasingly unlikely that they could do so again. The path that Turkey is on is clear. In February 2006,Turkish President Gul Abdullah hosted Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Ankara just one month after the Islamist movement win Palestinian legislative elections. This is the same Hamas that threw a waiter off a roof because he supported Fatah. That attacks Christian wedding feasts. That still has not complied with demands of the International Red Cross for a meeting with the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Turkey"s secularists enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with Israel. In a single stoke, Erdogan sought to isolate the secularists through "guilt by association" with Israel, raise his standing in the Islamic world, and hurt a country he values more as a foil than as a friend. It's no coincidence that the incident was timed to stymie planned joint military exercises. This incident is but the latest provocation designed to fan the popular flames that Attaturk had attempted to extinguish in order to make a modern, Western, prosperous Turkey. The real purpose in engineering this incident is, then, for the Islamists to strengthen their hold on power in Turkey, Erdogan sees any damage to Israel as a bonus.

Posted by Bob Braun on 2010-06-01 00:12:48 GMT

Although describing itself as a "humanitarian" flotilla, hostile "activists", amongst them some well known Islamists, were chanting in Arabic: "Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud,”. Translation: “Jews, remember Khyabar, the army of Mohammed is returning”. This has got nothing to do with humanitarianism and everything to do with hatred of Jews. Unsurprisingly. Any genuine humanitarian mission would not have refused a request from Shalit’s parents to bring letters and food packages to their kidnapped son held captive in a Gaza"s dungeon for over 4 years. Nor would they have refused an offer Israel made to unload the supplies and transfer the shipment to Gaza, after inspecting it for weapons. It"s abundantly obvious that the sole purpose of this cynical and provocative mission was to grab international media attention and sympathy, to foment hatred of Israel and Jews and to force Israel into a lose-lose situation. A trap most Western media have fallen for.

Posted by Rachel on 2010-05-31 22:04:49 GMT

Can"t wait to see what Pelosi will do when a flotilla of demonstrators againstgay marriages. Regret the necessary defense. Who approved this license to demonstrate by thugs? Holder

Posted on 2010-05-31 19:44:53 GMT