Alert reader MK points out the details in the following article from Reuters which may explain why things turned ugly on the Mavi Marmara: the Israelis were facing a potential hostage situation.
This would explain the advance preparations of the “aid workers” as well as the reaction of the IDF. The former intended to capture Israeli prisoners — which are a coveted resource among Palestinian mujahideen — and the latter were determined not to have four repeats of Gilad Shalit in Palestinian hands:
Read down to the italicized sections in the story below [italics added]:
Activists Describe “Bloodbath” On Gaza-Bound Ship
ISTANBUL/BEIRUT (Reuters) — Freed after days held incommunicado in Israeli jail, survivors of Monday’s storming of an aid ship described a “bloodbath,” with people shot before their eyes and desperate efforts to treat the wounded.
Those aboard the flotilla returned home on Thursday after being held in Israeli jail since the raid, at last able to give their own accounts of the incident in which Israeli troops killed nine activists aboard the cruise liner Mavi Marmara.
There were sharp differences in accounts: activists accused Israeli troops of war crimes, while Israel held to its line that they fired in self-defense. In one of the key differences, activists denied Israeli accusations that they fired first, with guns they had seized from Israeli troops in the melee.
All sides described a scene of confusion and mayhem in the botched assault.
“People had been shot in the arms, legs, in the head — everywhere. We had so many injured. It was a bloodbath,” said Laura Stuart, a British housewife and first aider.
She described frantic attempts to treat the injured in a makeshift sick room on the ship, and failed attempts to resuscitate some of the dead.
Four Israelis Captured in First Wave
Andre Abu Khalil, a Lebanese cameraman for Al Jazeera TV, gave an account that backed some of what both sides have said.
In his telling, activists initially wounded and captured four Israelis from a first wave that boarded the ship. A second wave of troops tried to storm the ship after the four were taken below decks.
“Twenty Turkish men formed a human shield to prevent the Israeli soldiers from scaling the ship. They had slingshots, water pipes and sticks,” he said. “They were banging the pipes on the side of the ship to warn the Israelis not to get closer.”
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After a 10-minute standoff the Israelis opened fire.
“One man got a direct hit to the head and another one was shot in the neck,” he said. In all he saw some 40 people wounded, some to the legs, eye, stomach and chest.
One activist used a loudhailer to tell the Israelis the four captive soldiers were well and would be released if they provided medical help for the wounded activists. With an Israeli Arab lawmaker acting as mediator, the Israelis agreed. Wounded were brought to the deck and were airlifted off the ship.
Israel says its troops fired only after some of their weapons had been seized by activists, who fired first.
“Once the soldiers saw knives, metal rods, chains, broken bottles, and they were shot at, they shot back and killed nine of them,” Israeli military spokesman Captain Ayre Shalicar said.