Yes, of course. Humanitarian activists ambushed the Israelis, thereby totally negating the positive publicity garnered by their mission. Uh huh. It all makes sense now. And the Israels have never lied to us about such things, so it must be true!
(Meanwhile, the praiseworthy J Street project releases a statement.)
Reporting from Jerusalem —
Israeli naval ships seized control of a protest flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday, killing at least 10 people and sparking widespread international condemnation.
Israeli television, citing foreign media reports, said the death toll could be as high as 16.
“The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities,” Trade and Industry Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel’s Army Radio.
The raid set off a storm of international protest and drew condemnations from leaders of Spain, Sweden, France, Germany, the U.N., the European Union and Arab League.
But after some initial expressions of regret, Israeli officials Monday came out strongly in defense of the raid, characterizing the protesters as hard-core extremists who had prepared an ambush for soldiers.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called the flotilla an “armada of hate and violence” that launched a “premeditated and outrageous provocation.” He said Israeli soldiers found evidence that “weapons” had been prepared in advance, but he did not specify whether those weapons included guns.
Israel’s military said protesters managed to grab two guns from Israeli soldiers and use them against the commandos, prompting soldiers to return fire.
Greta Berlin, leader of Free Gaza, one of the flotilla’s organizers, called those claims “absurd.”
“This was murder,” Berlin said in a telephone interview from Cyprus.
The six-vessel flotilla, packed with hundreds of international activists, food and other humanitarian supplies, had left Cyprus on Sunday night in an attempt to break Israel’s longstanding blockade of the Gaza Strip.