Wed, june 02, 2010; Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IDF Spokesperson | By Jonatan Urich
In a special meeting of the Security Cabinet it was disclosed that a group of 40 people on board the Mavi Marmara with no identification papers belong to Al Qaeda. The terrorists were equipped with bullet proof vests, night-vision goggles, and weapons.
On board the Mavi Marmara ship that arrived as part of the flotilla to Gaza was a group of approximately 40 people with no identification papers, who are mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization. This was disclosed by the Israeli Security Cabinet, which gathered on Tuesday evening (June 1) for a special meeting.
According to intelligence disclosed during that meeting, the terrorists wore bullet-proof vests, and carried with them night-vision goggles, weapons, and large sums of cash. Each person in this group had the exact same amount of cash in his pockets. While the civilian protestors were sent to the lower deck during the Shayetet Naval Special Force’s interception of the ship, the group divided into cells and remained on the upper deck in order to attack the soldiers.
An announcement delivered at the completion of this special meeting stated that blocking the entrance of these ships into Gaza is an act of self defense. The Cabinet places full responsibility for the incident on those who started the violence which clearly endangered the lives of the IDF soldiers, and commends the IDF for the way it responded. The meeting on this subject will continue on Wednesday (June 2).
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
The Cabinet decided that the imposition of restrictions on the entry of ships into Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, is an outstanding act of self-defense against Hamas’s continued aggression against Israeli citizens and communities; so too the IDF action against the violent provocation on the high seas.
The Cabinet regrets the fact that there were fatalities during the event but lays full responsibility on those elements that took violent action which tangibly endangered the lives of IDF soldiers.
The Cabinet expresses its full appreciation for the IDF and its commanders who acted out of self-defense and sends wishes for a quick recovery to our wounded soldiers. Israel will continue to defend its citizens from the Hamas terrorist base. The security of our communities and our citizens outweighs all other considerations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the Security Cabinet meeting:
“This was no peace flotilla but a violent and planned force. We have film and pictures that underscore what our soldiers faced and the last thing that could possibly be said about that ship is that it was a peace ship. Today, I visited the wounded fighters at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and I heard from them waiting for them on the deck of the ship were terrorists armed with cold weapons such as axes, knives, clubs, bars and the like, and it is likely that they also snatched weapons. Our soldiers acted against them with equanimity and heroism. We regret the loss of life – but give full backing to the soldiers and to the IDF regarding this action.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu explained why it is necessary to check ships transporting equipment and people to Gaza:
“We know from the experience of Operation Cast Lead, and from before it, that war materiel which enters Gaza is directed against our citizens. In Gaza is an Iranian-sponsored terrorist state; therefore, we try to prevent the entry of war materiel into Gaza, whether by land, sea or air. True, they smuggle war materiel through tunnels but smuggling via the sea is completely different, quantitatively. On the Francop alone, we captured approximately 200 tons of war materiel smuggled from Iran to Hizbullah. Opening a sea route into Gaza would constitute a great danger to the security of our citizens. Therefore, we persist with a naval blockade and check the ships. There is no possibility of maintaining this policy without checking ships’ cargoes. True, there is international pressure and criticism of this policy but we must understand that it is vital in order to maintain Israel’s security and Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Update on injuries and casualties on board the Mavi Mamara:
A total of seven soldiers were wounded – four soldiers were moderately wounded, of which two were initially in critical condition, as well as an additional three soldiers who were lightly wounded. Among the violent activists, there were nine casualties as a result of the soldiers defending themselves.
June 1: One soldier told Prime Minister Netanyahu that he had taken a bullet in the stomach and pointed out the entry and exit wounds. A captain told Prime Minister Netanyahu that people on the ship seized the rope and tried to prevent soldiers from coming down, and that only the soldiers’ resourcefulness led to its release.
“I came down second and as I did, they shot at me. Seven or eight fighters jumped on me and began to beat me with a bar. I was hit on the head and neck. Another man attacked me with a knife. I lost consciousness for 45 minutes and when I came to it was already light. My friends came and saved me.”
Another soldier said that as soon as he descended, he was set upon and thrown to a lower deck. He received a severe skull fracture as a result. Another naval soldier, who participated in the interception of the Mavi Marmara ship and sustained a broken arm while under attack by the ship’s passengers, described how the soldiers were shot at from the entrance to the ship’s corridor.
“We came with the intention of stopping the ship and taking it to Ashdod, and we did not come with the weapons we usually have, we came for something entirely different.”
IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.
During a search aboard the maritime vessel Mavi Marmara, IDF forces uncovered a cache of weapons including many knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5KG hammers, firebombs and gas masks in case IDF forces fired riot dispersal means at the activists as they violently attacked the soldiers. These weapons were used against Israeli Navy personnel as they attempted to board the ship. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.