The first two parts of this growing series on the Israeli attack on the aid convoy heading to Gaza try to sort through the mess of reports to find some facts; part 3 contains some updates from around the world; part 4 looks at some of the reactions in the global press; and part 5 looks at official reactions from around the world, including the subdued American statement and the Israeli justification. Part 6 reviews the statements made by various peace organizations while part 7 reviews yet more reaction from the press. Part 8 compares the video footage released by Israel and the Flotilla organizers.
[tweetmeme] The PR guys for both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups are currently hard at work trying to push the ‘correct’ version of the Israeli attack on the aid convoy today. It is difficult to be suer what exactly happened because there are many conflicting reports. Were the ships carrying weapons? Did the IDF begin shooting sleeping aid activists immediately? Were the weapon touting activists waiting for the Israeli commandos in an ambush? The truth is there somewhere, just obscured. What we can know is what we see. The IDF and the Flotilla organizers have both released videos of what transpired in the Mediterranean today, but even these show differing realities.
The IDF video: This video very clearly shows the people on board the aid boats attacking IDF commandos as they descended from the helicopters. It looks as though the people on the ship are using poles of some sort (the video says metal, but other reports say wood). If anything, this video shows how careless the Israeli operation was and it certainly dispels the claim that the activists were completely pacific.
The activist video: This video is more of a collection of news reports taken from the boat at the time of the attack. You do not actually see the attack being carried out, but you do get the play by play. Importantly, one report (about three minutes in) talks about how the IDF continues to shoot live ammunition despite the organizers raising a white flag, surrendering to the IDF.
The events and analyses of the day really do not clear up any of the ambiguity surrounding the taking of the Flotilla. It is clear that the IDF was provoked by the activists, but it is also clear by the number of casualties (reports vary between 10-21) and injuries (upwards of 60) that the IDF used excessive force in taking the ships. It is also clear from the amount of press that today is receiving that there is the potential for a PR hit similar to that of the Cast Lead/Goldstone report for Israel as well as the potential for further violence and the break up of the fragile peace process. I will have more of my own thoughts on all of this tomorrow.