New York, June 1 (ANI): A video released by the Israeli military shows that its "Operation Sea Breeze" went very wrong, very fast.
According to the New York Daily News, one tape posted on YouTube by the Israeli Defense Forces suggests that as soon as the commandoes slid down to the ferry Mavi Marmara, they came under a mob attack.
Activists or crew from the ship used sticks and chairs to slam the Israelis, the night-vision video shows.
The soldiers say they also faced knives, guns, pepper spray, slingshots and sacks filled with marbles.
In one shocking moment, a soldier is seen being heaved off the side of the ship. Others leaped off to escape the bloody violence.
Organizers of the so-called Freedom Flotilla say the Israelis fired first.
The convoy of six ships carrying hundreds of activists and thousands of tons of aid supplies left for Gaza on Sunday afternoon from the coast of Cyprus. The journey was organized by the Free Gaza Movement - which made two successful deliveries in 2008 - and an Islamic charity called the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief.
The ships carried Americans and Europeans, including a U.S. film producer, an Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner and Swedish author Henning Mankell.
Organizers told the Haaretz newspaper they expected to reach the Hamas-controlled territory yesterday afternoon - but the Israelis had other ideas.
Late Sunday, three Israeli Navy boats left Haifa, Israel, to meet the flotilla. In a series of radio messages, Israel reportedly warned the aid ships to change course.
The ships were about 80 miles from the Israeli coast when Navy Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom gave the order to board at 4 a.m., The Jerusalem Post reported.
Three Israeli Air Force choppers moved in on the Mavi Marmara's upper deck.
Free Gaza's Arafat Shoukri told the BBC he was on the phone with an activist on a ship when the raid began.
"Then we started to hear screams, shouting, shooting everywhere," he said. "We heard some of the [the activists] shouting, 'We are raising the white flag, stop shooting at us.'"
An Al Jazeera journalist said that Israel fired at the vessel before boarding, and Free Gaza activists accused the troops of shooting into a crowd of sleeping civilians.
A Turkish television reporter on the boat cried out, "These savages are killing people here, please help."
The Israeli account was starkly different.
"They charged us and threw a few of the soldiers off the deck to the floor below. We did not expect to find ourselves in such a situation," on Israeli Marine said.
The Israelis claimed they were stripped of their helmets and pistols but held their fire. They say they resorted to using stun grenades.
After an activist wrestled away an Israeli's gun, shots were fired and the naval squad asked for permission to return fire, according to one report.
"We simply put a gun to people's feet and fired," one trooper told Israeli media. "Whoever took a bullet simply calmed down, but it didn't deter the rest.
More commandos came aboard, and within an hour, the ship was under Israeli control.
Nine activists were dead, and at least 20 more injured or wounded. Most were Turkish. Eight Israelis were hurt or wounded, several seriously.
The six vessels were towed into the port of Ashdod in Israel. The wounded were taken to hospitals and others aboard the vessels were being held - and barred from speaking to the media.
"So far, 83 have been detained, of whom 25 have agreed to be deported. The rest are going to jail," police spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said. (ANI)