To anyone that has half an unbiased brain to think and at least one unclouded eye to see, the evidence supporting Israel’s account is mounting.

Sadly, there is now a long history of Israel’s many accounts of its actions not being accepted.

The unrelenting propaganda as well as Israel’s often lamentable ability to make its case or explain its actions mean that Israel has to change. The government must find a different way to defend Israel and one that shows up its enemies to be what they are. Israel must engage with those who claim to be its friend and let them put there actions where their mouth is.

But first, even before any investigation, internal or otherwise, is cobbled together to appease world opinion, this is my version of what happened garnered from a growing body of evidence:

Whether you like it or not and whether you think it legal or not, Israel has imposed a maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip. The single most important reason for the maritime blockade is fear of arms smuggling from Iran. Israel has repeatedly said that it will not allow Iran to have a port a few tens of kilometres from Tel Aviv. This article about the Francop shows you the size and extent of such arms smuggling. This would be considered an act of war by many countries. Note that the ship was flying the Antiguan flag. This is not an isolated case. Iran supplies Hamas through Somalia and Egypt and Hizbollah, a Hamas clone, in Lebanon via Syria.

The Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish-based IHH (both ostensibly and evidentially aid organisations) organised a flotilla, loaded it with aid and set out with the expressed intention of ‘breaking the blockade’. The delivery of aid was secondary and here’s why:

There is an impression given that Gazans are starving, but they are not. The UN claims that only between one quarter and one fifth of goods previously entering before the blockade gets through Israel’s and Egypt’s border checkpoints.

It should be noted that Egypt also imposed a ‘blockade’ and has built a 30ft deep steel barrier across its border with Gaza.

Whilst there is no doubt that Gazan’s are suffering economically, it is in the interests of Israel’s enemies to use overblown and inflammatory claims. Sometimes, the truth does get out. May I refer you to this article in the Daily Telegraph: Dispatch: Just how hungry is Gaza?

“There is no starvation in Gaza,” said Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Hamas’s ministry of justice. “No-one has died of hunger.

But it is, however, true that there is hardship. This cannot and should not be denied. What is often lacking is context and moderate language. The moral issues at stake here, and your view of them, depend on your particular bias or understanding of the conflict. You may simply hate Israel and be prepared to do anything to destroy it or to blacken its name internationally. You may support Israel and be blinkered to, or underplay, Palestinian suffering.

Given the difficulties of the Gazan people, aid organisations which support Palestinians and Gazans in particular, and reject Israel’s security concerns, have sought to make political capital by attempting to run the blockade with the express intention of breaking it. At the same time they load up their ships with aid, including food and building materials. Their mission, they believe,  is a moral one and they are motivated by their sense of outrage to pursue their goal.

Such activists have a right to protest. They can even try to break the blockade, but they know they will not be allowed to do so. They know, however, that this will be a propaganda victory. They know that the aid will still get through.

But their main motivation, as expressed many times in the recent Freedom Flotilla disaster is to break the blockade. One pebble cannot break a wall but eventually you will chip away enough to get through. It must also be said that these same people would never attempt to run a blockade by Iran or North Korea because they know they would be risking their lives. They know, if they are honest with themselves, that Israel may use force, but it will not be lethal. So why did it become lethal?

It is now becoming clear that at some point the flotilla was infiltrated by activists with links to terror and who had planned confrontation with Israeli forces. They brought on a board an assortment of knives, clubs and slingshots. They may have brought firearms, although there is no conclusive evidence. They were filmed by reporters on the boat chanting there intention to kill the Jews. They gave interviews stating it was Gaza or martyrdom. They did not care that they were about to risk the lives of hundreds of people including women and children (why would you bring children!)

Israel spent 6 hours trying to negotiate that the ships divert to Ashdod for inspection. The flotilla leaders refused. 6 hours! If they had real murderous intent they would have just sunk the ships.

Israeli commandos, include females, successfully boarded 5 of the 6 flotilla boats without encountering any resistance. There may have been some rough handling, but no-one on either side was injured. When Israel commandeered the 7th, delayed boat, the Rachel Corrie, yesterday, there was no resistance and no-one was injured.

But when the Mavi Marmara, the large lead ship, was boarded something went wrong.

Israel botched the Mavi Marmara assault. They used the wrong kind of troops and the wrong tactics. However, it is also clear, if you open your eyes even to what may be unpalatable to your viewpoint, the commandos came on board with a paintball gun and a Glock pistol. As each commando landed on the top deck wielding their paintball gun they were assaulted extremely violently with metal bars and knives. The ‘activists’ even had stun grenades, apparently.

The activists took two pistols from the Israelis and shot them. One was hit in the stomach. Another soldier was thrown over a guard rail and suffered serious head injuries. Three soldiers were taken hostage and moved below decks.

As his comrades lay on the deck injured, an Israeli Staff Sergeant dragged them to the side, stood in front of them to protect them, and took out his semi-automatic pistol.  Given the Turkish autopsy evidence, 9 ‘activists’ were then shot and killed by 30 bullets suffering shots to the legs, lower body and lethal shots to the head, including the back and side of the head. Several others were injured.

Those looking for atrocity stories and who don’t understand how lethal force is applied will see this as disproportionate. Just think. You are that Israeli. You have seen your comrades beaten unconscious and shot. There is a mob advancing on you with clubs and knives and maybe guns. Your life is in danger. You try to disable your assailant by shooting him in the leg, it’s dark and you are on a heaving ship. Some leg shots may hit the lower abdomen. He keeps coming. He is about to stab you or shoot you or beat you. You are in fear of your life. You have asked for and been given permission to use your firearm. Your training tells you you have to shoot twice in the head. You keep doing this until they stop coming. You have been joined by a comrade who is doing the same thing. 9 men are dead and your assailants stop coming at you. At last there are enough of you to take charge of the boat.

They have their victory. Israel has committed another ‘atrocity’. The IHH infiltrators, with links to terrorism have won. They have provoked the tiger. Now the lies and distortions that an all too willing world wants to hear can begin.

Claims that the Israelis opened the firing from deck or even from the helicopters do not make sense. Why fire live rounds them come down a rope with a pop-gun? If the activists were unarmed surely live rounds would have cowered them? Maybe they fired stun grenades or even tear gas, who knows. We do not even know where the dead fell and whether all casualties were on deck.

The non-Turkish flotilla leaders have not acknowledged this infiltration. They either refuse to accept the evidence either because there is some form of cognitive dissonance going on, or they are deliberately ignoring it because it doesn’t play to their political preconceptions. They have already demonised Israel and nothing Israel does in national self-defence or individual self-defence will make them tell it otherwise.

Israel must recognise that it has lost the battle for world opinion long ago. A combination of its poorly thought out strategies and its opponents successful manipulation of public opinion has turned the only redoubt of democracy in the Middle East to a pariah state with a lower standing than genocidal Iran. Israel was once surrounded by neighbouring enemies who wanted to destroy it. Now most of the world is either its enemy or wants it to give in to those who would destroy it.

Israel must now stop trying to fight battles as if it were still the 1970’s. In this century of mass communication and instant sound bites, so-called human rights and NGO’s, Israel has to be more humble and a lot cleverer; it has to be less defensive diplomatically and fight back not with weapons but with diplomacy and legal instruments. It must make the same use of international courts and UN bodies as its enemies. It has to show the world more forcefully what it is up against.

What Israel must not do is lift the maritime blockade. It should get together with its ‘friends’ and the UN and ask a simple question: how do we stop Iran arming our enemy and rebuilding its capability whilst, at the same time enabling Gazans to rebuild their broken homes and lives? How will you help us? How long will Gilad Shalit rot in some hole in Gaza (if that’s where he still is?) What pressure will the UN bring on Hamas to allow the Red Cross or the Red Crescent visit him? Where are the pro-Israel NGO’s fighting to tell Israel’s story?

Israel has to agree to some form of international enquiry not because it should but because it is diplomatically the right thing to do. This should be the start of a new strategy for Israel and its fight back in the propaganda war that could destroy it. If it stops acting as the victor and starts acting a bit more like the victim the tide could turn.

Here are links to material which support the article above.

Jerusalem Post 06/06/2010 Mercenaries aboard Gaza ship

Jerusalem Post 06/06/2010 At least 5 Mavi Marmura passengers have terror links

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 06/06/2010 Hamas refuses to allow flotilla aid into Gaza Strip

San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994

For some videos see my post

All news and videos about the flotilla see