"They beat us up with metal sticks and knives," he said. "There was live fire at some point against us... They were shooting at us from below deck."
The attack was in striking contrast to the groups stated objectives of peaceful support of the Palestinian cause, and made their stated motive for running the Israeli blockade suspect.
The greeting the peace lovers offered the Israeli's was rather warm. Activists grabbed soldiers and tried to hold them hostage, stripping them of their helmets and equipment. About 30 activists, all speaking Arabic, carried out the attack, chanting Islamic battle phrases.
Ten people were killed in the resulting violence early Monday as Israeli troops attempted to stop the flotilla.
An Israeli commando said upon descending into a boat with ropes, he was immediately attacked by a group of people.
"Some of the soldiers were tossed from the top deck to a lower deck by the activists, and jumped in the water to save themselves, he said."
Throughout the last decade, Hamas fired thousands of rockets towards Israel. Israel initiated the blockade in 2007 in an effort to stop the influx of weapons to Gaza and its Hamas rulers, who took over control of the region in a bloody coup.
Y Net News fills in the missing details of the encounter:
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.
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.
The peace activists came with clubs, knives and bats? Slingshots with glass marbles?
That hardly seems optimistic on the part of the peace activists.