The Real Story of the Gaza "aid" flotilla

So - news outlets have been making a big deal over the deteriorating relationship between Israel and Turkey, in a large part they say due to the debacle of the freedom flotilla.

But that's only a small part of the story.

Turkey, since Ataturk, has been a secular state. Whenever Islam gained too much prominence in the country, the military would re-take power. However, the current government, riding the general radicalization of Islam and its growing influence, is a strongly Islamic government which has broken down many of the traditional secular barriers. It has also gone after the hierarchy of the military (who are generally speaking islamic, but support the goal of a secular state) by prosecuting them over trumped up charges of planning a coup back in 2002 (when the Erdogan government first game to power).

So lets look at this again - now that Turkey, one of the main military powers in the region, is an Islamic rather than secular state, its relationship with the Jewish state of Israel has deteriorated. Shocking.

But what is interesting, and what has not been reported, is that the "aid flotilla" was not exactly what it seemed, and the Israeli commando version of the truth seems to be a lot closer to reality than what most (liberal) media sources would have you believe:

Probe: Erdogan knew Gaza flotilla would be violent

Probe by private body of Israel's intelligence officials finds that some 'Mavi Marmara' activists were part of an organized group that was prepared for a violent conflict.

An investigation by a private body of Israel's intelligence officials has found that the Gaza flotilla activists aboard the "Mavi Marmara" who clashed with Israel Navy forces last week were part of an organized group that was prepared for a violent conflict.

An activist holding a knife aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship

An activist holding a knife aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship on May 31, 2010.

Photo by: Provided by IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The report, which was published by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (Malam), also found that the group was supported by the Turkish government and that Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was aware of the plans for violence.

Malam is a private organization that serves as an unofficial branch of Israel's intelligence community and in the past has been a medium through which Israel's intelligence findings were made known to the public.

According to the investigation, while most of the 500 Mavi Marmara passengers were humanitarian activists and volunteers who underwent a security check before boarding the ship in the Antalya port, a group of 40 IHH activists boarded the ship in an Istanbul port beforehand, and separated themselves from the rest of the passengers throughout the journey.

These activists boarded the ship without a security ship and were equipped with communication devices, flack jackets embroidered with Turkish flags, and gas masks. The activists turned the upper deck into their headquarters and refused entry to the other passengers. Among the activists was a clear internal hierarchy wherein specific activists acted as commanders.

The leader of the Islamic organization, Bülent Yıldırım, was on the Mavi Marmara and briefed the IHH members about two hours before the Israeli Navy arrived at the ship. Their main objective was to hold back the soldiers with any means available, and to push them back into the sea.

The ship did not allow weapons on board, however, the IHH members stocked up won metal rods, knives cut the ships metal rail which they used to attack the soldiers.
According to an officer who was aboard the ship, a confrontation started when the ship's crewmates heard the IHH members sawing the railing into metal rods, but they were unable to confiscate them from them.

The IHH members gathered all the knives from all six cafeterias on board the ship, as well as the axes from the fire extinguishers on the deck, all of which served as weapons in the attack against the Navy commandos who landed on the deck.

Before the takeover, all the passengers who were not related to the IHH protestors were lowered into the belly of the ship and were ordered to remain there. Only journalists and security personnel were allowed access to the ship's deck.

The footage filmed on deck matched the testimonies of the passengers that claimed they did not witness any violence, as they were denied access to the deck, where the violent attack occurred.

The testimonies are also similar to the version given by the Navy commandos who said that they fought with a group of approximately 50 people who used every weapon available to attack them.

Eight of the nine dead were identified as IHH members.

Files found on laptops owned by the IHH members pointed at strong ties between the movement and Turkey's prime minister. Some of the activists even said that Erdogan was personally involved in the flotilla's preparations.

They also said that they knew in advance that their chances of making it into Gaza were slim, but their initial goal was to "to expose Israel's true face to the world."

An IHH journalist said during his investigation with Israeli security forces that "the Turks set a trap for you and you fell straight into it." He also said that the recent flotilla was the first in many.

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