JERUSALEM – Israeli commandos rappelled down to an aid flotilla sailing to thwart a Gaza blockade on Monday, clashing with pro-Palestinian activists on the lead ship in a botched raid that left at least nine passengers dead.
Bloodied passengers sprawled on the deck and troops dived into the sea to save themselves amid hand-to-hand fighting that injured dozens of activists and six soldiers. Hundreds of activists were towed from the international waters to Israeli detention centers and hospitals.
International condemnation was swift and harsh as Israel scrambled to explain how what was meant to be a simple takeover of a civilian vessel went so badly awry
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly canceled a planned meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington to rush home. The global reaction appeared likely to increase pressure to end the embargo that has plunged Gaza’s 1.5 million residents deeper into poverty.
Most of the information about what happened on the single ship where violence broke out came from Israel, which cut off all communication to and from the activists and provided testimony and video evidence that its soldiers came under attack by activists armed with metal rods, knives, slingshots and two pistols snatched from the troops.
Excerpt, Read entire article here: Bloody Israeli Raid on Flotilla Sparks Crisis
A few days later, on June 5, another humanitarian ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, tried to pass the Israeli blockade to deliver aid and goods to the Gaza. Again, Israeli commandos boarded the ship and redirected it to Israeli port of Ashdod. There was no bloodshed.
The MV Rachel Corrie is named after an American student crushed to death by a bulldozer in 2003 while protesting Israeli house demolitions in Gaza. The 20 passengers, which included Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maguire, were questioned and their identifies were checked by Israeli officials before being deported, as happened with hundreds of people taken off the previous aid flotilla.
Source: The Sunday Times (UK)