(by Andy Soltis, NYPost.com) – The Israeli naval commando who was hurled from the upper deck of a Gaza-bound ship — and later jumped into the sea to save his life — yesterday described the harrowing ordeal of being attacked by knife-wielding “peace activists.”
“Everyone wanted to kill us,” the officer, identified only as “Captain R.,” said from his hospital bed in Haifa, where he was recovering from a stab wound to the stomach and other injuries.
He was the commander of an elite team of marines on a mission to halt the Mavi Marmara early Monday, and the second man to rappel down a rope from his Black Hawk helicopter to the top-deck roof of the ship.
“One of the guys from my group was already down there, and there were a few people on him. It started off as a one-on-one fight, but then more and more people started jumping us,” he said. “Dozens of people beat each soldier on the roof.”
He said he was forced to go for his handgun.
“I was in front of a number of people with knives and clubs. I cocked my weapon when I saw one of them coming towards me with a knife drawn and I fired once. Then another 20 people came at me and threw me down to the deck below,” Captain R. said.
“Then I felt a stabbing in the stomach. It was a knife. I got the knife out, then somehow got down to the lower deck. There was another mob of people,” he told reporters.
By that point, more commandos had arrived on the upper deck and seized control of the ship. But the lowest deck, where he was, remained in the hands of the attackers.
“Another solder and I managed to get out of there and jump into the water,” he said.
Captain R. disputed earlier accounts that only a few dozen of the 600 pro-Palestinian activists took part in the violence. He said at least three quarters of those aboard were involved, “each one with a knife in his hand.”
He gave his account as Israeli brass tried to defend themselves in the face of bitter foreign denunciations of the raid, which killed nine passengers — as well as sharp domestic criticism of the way what should have been a police action turned into a high-risk operation by an outnumbered team of commandos.
Captain R. admitted that his men were stunned by what they encountered on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara.
“Though [those on the boat] wanted to break the Gaza blockade, we thought we’d encounter passive resistance, perhaps verbal resistance. We didn’t expect this,” he said. “We encountered terrorists who wanted to kill us and we did everything to prevent injury.”
Captain R. said his soldiers adhered to the values they studied, including the Israeli code known as “Purity of Arms,” in which forces show humanity toward the enemy, try not to harm noncombatants, and carefully use their weaponry only to the extent it is needed.
A top Israeli navy commander said the lesson to be learned was to avoid being outnumbered next time.
“We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future, as if it was a war.”
Contact Mr. Soltis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The New York Post. Visit the website at NYPost.com.
1. Who is “Captain R”?
2. Why did Captain R. fire his gun?
3. How many of the activists on board the Mavi Marmara took part in the violence on board the Mavi Marmara, according to Captain R.?
4. What is the Israeli military code “Purity of Arms”?
5. a)Read the “Background” below. Commentator David Horovitz writes at jpost.com “While many of those aboard the flotilla may have sincerely believed they were on a mission to alleviate suffering in Gaza, those people who mobbed the commandos clearly had a very different agenda. Nobody watching that footage could ever again in good conscience brand them ‘peace activists’ or ‘human rights activists.'”
Watch the videos under “Resources” below. Do you agree with Mr. Horovitz’s assertion? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.
NOTE: “Answers by Email” has ended for the summer–daily news postings will end June 11th — have a great summer!
ON ISRAELI COMMANDOS LANDING ON THE MAVI MARMARA:
- On Monday, May 31, six ships carrying humanitarian aid (organized by the Free Gaza Movement) left Cyprus to breach a blockade of Gaza set up by Israel and Egypt to keep arms from Hamas.
- Designated a terror group by the United States and other countries, Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 and has rained more than 6,500 rockets onto Israeli towns.
- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the ships were contacted [en route] and told they could offload supplies at an Israeli port for delivery to Gaza, but they refused.
- According to Barak, Israeli commandos boarded five of the ships and forced them to dock, but dozens of activists on the [sixth ship] Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara used guns, knives and bats to attack [the Israeli] commandos.
- The commandos were armed with paintball rifles but got the OK to use their pistols when one commando was thrown 30 feet onto a lower deck and another soldier lost his handgun to an attacker.
- Isareli officials on Wednesday said their investigation of the 700 activists in the flotilla showed 100 had ties to jihadist groups, mainly al Qaeda. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office decided to free all of the activists, including those who attacked the soldiers. All are being returned to their own countries.
- Also on Wednesday, June 2, Egypt opened its border with Gaza and at the newly opened crossing in the border town of Rafah, about 300 Palestinians entered through Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world.
- Egypt’s opening of the border was believed to be temporary, although the government did not say how long it would last.
- For those who say Israel blocks aid to the Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz noted that the State of Israel last year transferred 1 million tons of food and equipment to Gaza.
Watch a video of the Israeli soldiers being attacked by the humanitarian activists of the “Free Gaza” flotilla as they land on the Mavi Marmara:
Several voices belonging to Navy commandos are heard in the most recently released IDF (Israeli Defense Force) video:
Watch a video of the Israeli IDF warning the flotilla that the Gaza port is closed, offering it to dock at the Ashdod Port and transfer its supplies under the ship’s crew’s supervision. The ship refused to comply.:
Click here for a map of Israel (including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank).
Go to worldatlas.com for a map of the Middle East.
For background information on Hamas click here.
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