In May 2010, the Gaza Flotilla, consisting of six ships, attempted to sail from Turkey to Gaza carrying humanitarian aid. They wanted to break the Israeli blockade, but Israel claimed the flotilla constituted a security threat.
A number of Israeli commandos boarded the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, in international waters. Nine Turkish citizens were shot and killed, some at point blank range.
But the Israeli Defense Forces very quickly released their own version of the events.
The United Nations issued its report about the “Gaza flotilla incident” in September 2011, and found that the loss of life was “unacceptable.”
At the same time, the panel says that the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza was imposed as a “legitimate security measure” to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.
The flotilla acted “recklessly” in attempting to breach the naval blockade of Gaza, and that more could have been done to warn flotilla participants of the potential risks involved and to dissuade them from their actions, according to the report.
On May 31, 2012, young Palestinians in Gaza, including my friend Mohamed Awad, remember those killed on the Mavi Marmara two years ago.
I’m left wondering — what is the difference between piracy in international waters and the actions of the Israeli commandos? Were 9 Turkish citizens murdered in order to protect Israel’s security? Were they killed in order to make an example for future activists who might get a similar idea?