Every news outlet in the world has been running the tape of the Israeli commando raid on Free Gaza Flotilla released by the Israeli Defense Forces. It lasts about a minute and clearly shows the commandos being attacked by the people on board as they rappel down from their helicopters.
I don't argue with that portion of the tape at all. You can see the sticks and rods clearly. The passengers do hit the commandos boarding their ship. To argue otherwise is ludicrous. But what we don't see is what happened before and after that one minute of tape that was released.
Eyewitnesses say that the Israeli forces had already used live fire on the ship before they attempted to board it. Is that true? I have no idea. Could the people on board have thought they were defending themselves against people who were already shooting at them? Sure. But could the Israelis have used tear gas or non-live fire in reality and it was mistaken for live fire? That's also definitely possible. It'd be great to see the tape to see if we can make a determination about that one way or another.
Perhaps even more importantly, what happened after the moment in time captured by the tape? When did the commandos start firing on the passengers? When did they stop firing? In the tapes made on board, you can clearly hear that the ship has surrendered and the captain has put up the white flag - and there is still gunfire in the background.
I can speak Turkish, so having watched all the tapes, I can tell you that over the loud speaker the people in charge of the ship are saying, "We have surrendered, the white flag is up, people are lying on the ground and they are still firing." And you still hear the gunfire as they are saying this on tape.
When did the commandos start shooting and, maybe even more importantly, when did they stop shooting? Was it all in the heat of an active confrontation or were there any shootings after people had already laid down and surrendered completely? That would seem to be a critical question.
Without the full tapes there is no way of knowing. Are there tapes of what happened after the one minute we have seen? Of course there are. There is no reason why they would have stopped taping at that point in time. They have selectively released only the portion of the tape that they think helps their cause.
So, it is incumbent upon Israel to release the full tapes immediately. There is no reason, other than propaganda and spin, not to release the tapes. If they show you were right in using force, then that helps to make your case. I am completely open to that possibility. We shouldn't jump to conclusions. The full tapes might vindicate the IDF entirely. But if the IDF does not release the rest of the tapes, then it seems to be a fair assumption that the tapes do not help their case.
It's also very important that news organizations that run the tape released by the IDF note that this is only a very small fraction of what happened in this incident. And that the IDF refuses to release the tapes that would show the rest of the picture. If you're a news organization, you should be in the business of going after the whole truth, demanding as much information as possible and giving your viewers a full context of the story. I would hope that they would do that going forward.
If the Israeli government is convinced they took the appropriate action in this case, they can go a long way toward proving that by giving us the whole tape. If not, we have to assume they're hiding something. That opens them up to justifiable speculation as to what they really did on board that ship. In the end, nine passengers were killed and dozens more shot and wounded. How did that happen? Was it in any way justifiable? There's only one way to know. Release the tapes.
UPDATE: Israel has just released another one minute tape of the flotilla attack. This goes to my point exactly -- they have so many more tapes of what happened on board, both from the IDF perspective and video shot on board the ship from the passengers' perspective. Until they release all of these, these pre-selected propaganda pieces should only raise more questions about what they are not showing us.
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