Subscribe: Kishkushim خربطات קישקושים
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
activists  arab  army  egypt  government  iran  israel  israeli  jewish  people  ship  soldiers  state  tent city  tent 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Kishkushim خربطات קישקושים

Kishkushim خربطات קישקושים

Commentary on Israel, the Middle East, and the Jewish World

Last Build Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:36:19 +0000


Turkey, Russia, and the US in Syria

Fri, 27 Nov 2015 19:32:00 +0000

The tensions between Russia and Turkey, publicly revealed following Turkey's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet, raise a number of important questions about the aims of different states in the Syrian conflict.

It has long been known that Turkey has supported groups fighting against the Syrian government in the civil war of that country. Most of those groups are political Islamists. They idea that they are "moderate Islamists" is laughable, unless moderate describes any group left of ISIS. Many of these groups, however, are locked in their own battles with ISIS. Turkey and some of the Gulf States have invested in these groups as part of their aim of bringing down the the Iran-aligned government of Syria under Bashar al-Assad.

Russia's intervention in the Syrian conflict, coordinated with Syria, and having a tacit green light from the international community, has so far focused precisely on these types of Islamist groups. Whether for strategic or tactical reasons, the priority for the Syrians and Russians has been on fighting these various fragmented opposition groups, including what remains of the Free Syrian Army. That provides at least part of the Turkish decision to shoot down the Russian plane.

What are the policy aims of the U.S. in the Syrian conflict? It is very difficult to read White House efforts as reflecting any coherent policy, unless it is a policy of deliberate disengagement combined with tacit support for the efforts of other states.

If the policy aim is to bring down the Assad regime, the U.S. appears to be failing at the moment. One also wonders what the interest would be for the U.S. in such an outcome, given the alternatives.

If the aim is to defeat ISIS, it is hard to see how the U.S. plans to achieve that aim with the policies embraced so far.

If the aim is humanitarian, the policy has been disastrous. Measured in loss of life, injury, and destruction of civilian property in Syria, the prolonged civil war in the country, surely abetted by support (direct or indirect) of opposition groups on the part of the U.S., the outcome of American efforts (if any have been made) is entirely negative.(image)


Wed, 21 Aug 2013 15:12:00 +0000

Two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote the following in a post on the uprising in Egypt:

Unless higher-level officers in the Egyptian army turn against the government, this protest wave will not turn into a revolution. Mubarak has shown that he's willing to go far - as far as the Iranian regime did - in crushing the protests. There cannot be regime change without the army losing faith in Mubarak or the president himself stepping down. And I don't know that the army has a party or a leader it would back beside Mubarak.

In the wake of that post, the "Arab Spring" seemed to unfold quite differently from what I had predicted. People everywhere celebrated the arrival of democracy in the region. But today, everything looks more like what many skeptics at the time predicted. In Syria, Libya, and Egypt, we have seen the weakness of civil society vis-à-vis the state or the armed thugs operating in its stead. Law-bound government, not to mention parliamentary democracy, is impotent in such circumstances.

The Egyptian army never lost its grip on power. Although it bowed to the popular movement at the time and backed the deposition of Mubarak, the army took the intervening time to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood government or allow the latter to undermine itself. The military regrouped and emerged as the only stable institution after a period of economic near-chaos and ineffectual government. It is now crushing the remaining opposition to its rule.

Much of the interesting discussion about the region - analysis which ignores the moralizing beloved by the ideologues in the West and elsewhere - is taking place on Facebook these days. It is carried out by tireless sifters, such as Un Monstruo Muy Monstruoso (also known as "Nobody" or simply "N.B.") and fearless scholars such as Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, not to mention countless other important bloggers (e.g., Brown Moses) who make data collection their primary aim.(image)

Haifa's Tent City

Thu, 11 Aug 2011 03:34:00 +0000

by CARMIA Though Haifa's "tent city" can't compare to Tel Aviv's, it has grown from three tents to about 50. But not only has the number of tents increased - a real culture has sprung up, along with hierarchies and role divisions, and local norms. The infrastructure has expanded to include chemical toilets, an ecological dish washing system, a living "room" and kitchen, and other amenities.The kitchen includes a full-sized refrigerator which is constantly stocked with donated goodies from local cafes, restaurants, and bakeries. Trash is sorted into compost, plastic, paper, and waste.In the living room area, discussions are held, as well as spontaneous jam sessions. A stocked bookshelf contains literature on socialism and other topics. Some of the alternative values that have taken hold at the tent city are reflected in this "free market." People leave items they no longer want and may take whatever they want ("freecycling"). There's even a "playroom" for the young protesters, though I haven't seen too many of those. Most of the tent city inhabitants seem to be in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Information in the tent city is transmitted through several vehicles: on-site leadership, detailed bulletin boards (including a dynamic events-calendar which lists extra-curricular activities, lectures, and more), and Facebook groups. In addition to the various lectures, the diversity of the activities is pretty amazing: poetry night, acrobalance, professional massages, workshops on stress and other topics, guerilla gardening...One thing that has characterized the protests until now (including the tent city and the demonstrations that have been taking place up to three times a week) is their peaceful nature. I haven't heard of any incidents of violence or looting, which is reflected in the atmosphere at the tent city: quiet but determined, respectful but opinionated.It's been 23 days since the tent protests began in Haifa. The protest grew quickly from three tents to an almost functioning microcosm of a (tent) city. [...]

Tent Protests Spread to Haifa

Wed, 20 Jul 2011 00:17:00 +0000

About a week ago, "tent cities" sprung up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to protest the lack of affordable housing. The tent protests were also planned for other cities in Israel such as Be'er Sheva and even Kiryat Shmona. Haifa wasn't mentioned in the news, but starting today around 17:30, young people have set up shop in the Carmel Centre. By late evening, the three tents had grown to four with more tents planned for tomorrow in the neighbourhood's "Gan HaEm" (Mother's Garden). The "tent city" in Haifa is tiny compared to the scenes around the country, and it will be interesting to see if the organizers can get it going.
And it may all be related to cottage cheese.


More Thoughts on Protests

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 19:05:00 +0000

Comparing the photographs from Egypt in 2011 to those from the post-election demonstrations in Iran in 2009 - there are almost no women demonstrating in Egypt. In the Iranian protests, women were front and center, at least on the documentary record. Says quite a bit about the differences between these two societies and the protest movements.

Some people are worried that Egypt might turn into another 1979. I think it would be hard to repeat an Islamic Revolution in Egypt today. Even if Mubarak were to fall, it's unlikely that a militant cadre of Islamists would be able to turn the whole protest movement into a revolutionary transformation of Egyptian society, eliminating other opposition movements and cutting off ties to the West.(image)

The Intifada against Arab Authoritarianism

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 18:19:00 +0000


Unless higher-level officers in the Egyptian army turn against the government, this protest wave will not turn into a revolution. Mubarak has shown that he's willing to go far - as far as the Iranian regime did - in crushing the protests. There cannot be regime change without the army losing faith in Mubarak or the president himself stepping down. And I don't know that the army has a party or a leader it would back beside Mubarak.

These protests were only possible because of the relative liberalization of Egypt and the comparatively free access of so many educated young people to new media and communications (until Mubarak shut the internet down!). By way of contrast, see how quiet Syria is in comparison; this kind of popular and sophisticated grassroots organization simply would not have been possible there.

Nevertheless, this is a new political dynamic in the Arab world. Tunisia and Egypt are seeing true popular upheavals. And because these states never achieved the kind of modern, mass mobilization of their populations built up by the Iranian regime since the Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, Tunisia and Egypt depend (in Tunisia, depended) on their military and security apparatuses in the face of opposition. In Iran, you had ideologically-motivated popular militias and activists fighting on behalf of the Iranian state against the opposition protesters. In Egypt, you only have paid soldiers, loyal to the institution of the army and, for now, to the president.But as long as they remain loyal, the regime will not fall - at least not in the short-term. Tunisia's police and army were ultimately too weak and too unwilling to fight for the dictator there. But Egypt's army is much larger and Mubarak's support there seems deep enough for it to continue to side with him.

Another comparison: The violence in Lebanon following the fall of the government represents a much more familiar phenomenon. Basically thuggery along sectarian lines.(image)

Galgalatz History?

Tue, 28 Dec 2010 15:33:00 +0000

I'm really not sure, but I think history may have just been made on Galgalatz, a popular IDF-operated radio station. Today at 15:10, a complete song in Arabic was played on the airwaves. I didn't catch the name of the artist or the song, but if I had to make a guess based on the voice and style, it sounded like Amir Benayoun, a Jewish-Israeli artist of Moroccan descent.

(object) (embed)
Amir Benayoun, who sings in Hebrew as well as in Arabic

ADDENDUM: I found the song. It's actually by Dudu Tassa, a Jewish-Israeli artist of Iraqi origin. Enjoy.

(object) (embed)

Erdogan - More to Laugh About

Mon, 29 Nov 2010 20:44:00 +0000

This is almost as funny as Prince Andrew's analysis of anorexia and his paean to British geography teachers
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the leaked documents “suspicious,” but refused to comment on their substance. According to the semi-official Anatolian News Agency, Mr. Erdogan said that Turkey will “wait until WikiLeaks spill all the beans,” before evaluating the seriousness of the revelations, “because the seriousness of Wikipedia is doubtful” (NYT).
WikiLeaks contains a number of very negative assessments of Erdogan and the Turkish government by the U.S.(image)

Arab Positions on Iran in WikiLeaks and Juan Cole's Efforts to Downplay their Significance

Mon, 29 Nov 2010 20:26:00 +0000

BY AMOSFor me, the biggest story of the latest WikiLeaks release so far is the documentation of active Arab lobbying against Iran and repeated calls for aggressive American intervention. In the leaked reports, Saudi and several other Gulf state officials repeatedly urge America to keep the military option on the table. It's interesting to see Juan Cole and others downplay the significance of these revelations. For Cole, it's all about Israel, even though Saudi and other officials hardly mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in these cables (see here, for example):It is no secret that the Sunni Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf have been alarmed by the rise of Iran as a regional power. That rise has taken place for three reasons. First, the worrisome deterioration in the condition of stateless Palestinians under rightwing governments of Israel since 2001, and that country's increasing belligerence toward neighbours, as with the 2006 Lebanon war, have inflamed passions throughout the region, allowing Iran to position itself as a champion of the weak.The rise of Iran as a regional power has very little to do with the alleged deterioration in the condition of the Palestinians since 2001. There is nothing new about rejectionist (anti-U.S.) powers in the region supporting the cause of the Palestinians, rhetorically and financially. Egypt did this under Nasser and the Syrians have presented themselves as the patron of radical Palestinian factions for a long time. Neither regime owed its rise to Israeli policy or the conditions of the Palestinians.Cole wants to minimize the real fears of the Gulf states about Iran's ambitions and its pursuit of nuclear weapons to achieve them. Of course, he's right that the "street" in the Arab world supports Iran for its virulent stands against Israel. But the people do not rule in any of the Gulf states. They are far from positions of political responsibility, which might actually make them to identify with the interests of their states in the global arena or to articulate realist political stances.Lastly, Cole makes an argument from absence about Egypt's position on Iran:Despite the breathless headlines they generated, the yield of the documents is actually thin. The most populous and militarily most important Arab state, Egypt, appears not to have been among those urging military action. There is no sign in the diplomatic cables of any practical steps toward an Arab attack on Iran, no evidence of logistical or military preparations. At most there is high-level gossip in Arab capitals that something should be done, and by someone else. In any case, if this is the anti-Iranian Arab axis, Tehran can sleep peacefully at night.In fact, the cables show great Egyptian concern over Iranian meddling in Arab affairs, especially closer to home. I think the jury is still out on Egypt's position. Cole somehow wants to continue to insist in the face of the leaks that only the Americans and the Israelis are bothered by Iran. He believes that the leaders of the region should share view that there is "no evidence" that Iran has a nuclear weapons program or that it aspires  to achieve this capability. Ergo, everyone should rest easy. Those who disagree, he implies, are either trying to manipulate the situation to advance their imperialist interests in the Middle East.(the U.S. and Israel) or being manipulated by imperialist powers.What's really funny is that Juan Cole is so obsessed with Israel that on his blog he highlighted a cable from January 2007 as one of the most revelatory documents released. He interprets the following passageThoughtful Israeli analysts point out that even if a nuclear-armed Iran did not immediately launch a strike on the Israeli heartland, the very fact that Iran possesses nuclear weapons would completely transform the Middle East s[...]

Ahmed Tibi's Contradictions

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 21:42:00 +0000

I always marvel at MK Ahmed Tibi's willful distortions of the truth. Now, the doctor from Taibeh has seized the stage of the New York Times op-ed page to capitalize on Lieberman and Bibi's latest loyalty oath mischief. That business - a law that applies only to non-Jewish immigrants - is indeed shameful and another expression of the evil and stupidity currently residing in the foreign ministry. But Tibi's argument consists of a lie and a calculated one at that. According to Tibi,there is far more wrong with the loyalty oath than simply the original intent of applying it only to non-Jews. Swearing allegiance to an Israel that is Jewish and democratic is logically inconsistent and an attempt to relegate Palestinian citizens of Israel to inferior status.Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise 20 percent of the population. The insistence of some Jewish leaders on the state being “Jewish” is a punch in the gut to Palestinians who for more than 60 years have struggled to achieve equal rights in Israel.There is racism and discrimination against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Israel. But the definition of the state is not the problem and in itself cannot be called racist. Furthermore, there is nothing new about that definition. Tibi apparently is trying to turn back the clock of history with some sleight of hand.Israel's Declaration of Independence and its Basic Laws already define the country as a "Jewish State." Indeed, the United Nations itself called for its establishment in 1947. There are many people who want to distort the meaning of this simple description. In part, the word "Jewish" lends itself to such distortions because, unfortunately for the Jews, it describes both a confessional identity and a cultural, ethnic, or national one (this apparently confuses many people in the modern world; 300 years ago, few people would have recognized any sort of problem). But the original intent was quite simple: Israel is the "nation-state of the Jews," which means that any person who is "Jewish" may immigrate there. And 62 years later, this continues to be one of the guiding principles of the state. Is there a problem with that? Let Ahmed Tibi say so straight up: I don't believe that there should be a Jewish state.The problem of course is that Tibi seems to have no issue with the nation-state or with nationalism per se - if he did, he would object to any number of Arab states in the region and nation-states elsewhere. He also would not be suggesting thatThe international community could address our situation by calling on Israel to recognize us as a national minority.Tibi, in other words, wants Kosovo or Bosnia. This is not the game of liberal democracy but of nationalist secession - in other words, exactly the game that Lieberman wants. [...]

The Syrian Economy

Mon, 18 Oct 2010 06:30:00 +0000

Please take a look at this excellent post by Ehsani for Josh Landis's Syria Comment on the economic reforms in Syria. The process described in this post are much more important than the blips on Zvi Bar'el's radar.(image)

The Awakening Councils and the Future of Iraq

Mon, 18 Oct 2010 06:19:00 +0000

The New York Times reported today that Sunnis in Iraq formerly allied with the U.S. appear to be (re)joining the Qaeda-led insurgency. The article cites militia leaders in Salah ad Din, Diyala, and Baghdad governorates. The Awakening Councils played a critical role in defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq, initially in Anbar province. (For a compelling interpretation of how this actually happened, see John McCary's The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives.) Although the Iraqi central government politicians interviewed in the article deny that such defections are taking place, there seems little reason to doubt that fighters are leaving the employ of the government or threatening to do so. Apparently, the tribal militiamen and their commanders have had enough of the Iraqi central government refusing to pay them or grant them immunity from prosecution. They see little reason to co-operate with the Shi'i-dominated federal government. With American forces leaving Iraq, the Sunni tribes in places like al-Anbar are now renegotiating their role in the Iraqi order. It is unlikely that they will want to surrender their sources of income to al-Qaeda, as they almost did in the bad years of the insurgency. But they need more assurances than they have been getting from Baghdad and from the U.S. The Iraqi security forces are not strong enough to govern areas dominated by the tribes in western Iraq and in the Sunni governorates. Whoever ends up taking charge in Baghdad will have to make concessions to them.(image)

Hanin Zuabi the Flotilla Heroine

Wed, 11 Aug 2010 16:51:00 +0000

Footage released by Israel Army Radio seems to contradict claims by Balad MK Hanin Zuabi that she saw "no people carrying clubs" aboard the ship. It also shows her arguing with Israeli soldiers attempting to evacuated wounded activists. She can be heard insisting to an army soldier several times that the activists "want to stay here [on the ship]." Zuabi, who became the darling of flotilla fans in Israel, credited herself with having assisted in the evacuation of wounded activists from the ship.(image)

The Guardian on Lebanon-Israel Border Clash

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 19:55:00 +0000

Nearly six hours after UNIFIL acknowledged that IDF troops were removing trees on the Israeli side of the border, the Guardian still has a video on its web site in which the newspaper's caption claims that
the fighting broke out after Israeli soldiers tried to uproot a tree on the Lebanese side of the border.

World Cup Breaks Taboo

Sat, 10 Jul 2010 22:41:00 +0000

In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a taboo was broken in Germany. For the first time since the Second World War, Germans were out in droves, waving their national flag. A taboo seems to have also been broken in the current World Cup: the German flag on frequent display in Israel, not necessarily with the presence of other international flags, at Jewish-owned places of entertainment. And according to a poll published in Yediot Ahronot, close to a third of (male) Israelis want the German team to win.

Carmel Centre, Haifa; a day after Germany's defeat in the semi-finals


Haifa Pride 2010

Sun, 27 Jun 2010 18:34:00 +0000

BY CARMIAThough there have been some gay protests or events in Lebanon as of late, Israel remains the only country in the Middle East to hold annual Pride Parades. Admittedly, the Haifa parade doesn't draw quite the crowd that Tel Aviv does, but turnout last Thursday was pretty impressive - over 500 according to one estimate, possibly even more.Having been present this year and the last, I have to say that the turnout was definitely higher this time around. I spoke to Yulia, who was heavily involved in the event, and asked her what contributed to the sudden spike in marchers. She attributed it to better marketing, but I suspect that last August's shocking event also played a part in rousing people.The parade went by without a hitch, but police was out in full force to protect marchers just in case.There was a small group of counter-demonstrators, mostly clad in knitted skullcaps.Representatives from the self-defined Palestinian gay women's group Aswat were also present. Here, one of the members is being interviewed.Compared to Tel Aviv, Haifa's Pride Parade can be described as tame and it often felt more like a protest than a parade. An exceptionally racy poster at this docile gathering: "It's most delicious in the ass". [...]


Tue, 08 Jun 2010 01:37:00 +0000

I used to listen to Rex Murphy on CBC Radio when I was in high school. I believe his show was called "Cross-Country Check-Up" and it was always right on. So is his article in the National Post about the flotilla affair (thanks to Jesse for the link - here is to Cummer Valley Middle School reunions!):
But torpid as is its nature, and comatose as are its eternal deliberations, on one subject, and toward one state, the United Nations acquires a strange and uniquely transformative power. Bring Israel under its gaze and the diplomatic sloths at UN headquarters morph into the swiftest of gazelles. From lotus-eaters to adrenalin junkies in the twinkling of an eye. Quite amazing, really.

So naturally when the debacle over the so-called “freedom flotilla” — news media should be wary of letting activists choose the names of things — roared into the headlines, the UN reacted at the diplomatic equivalent of the speed of light. The Security Council issued its “condemnation,” and in a wonderful reversal of cause and effect also called for an investigation into what it had “condemned.” And the cruellest joke on the planet, what the UN with unbounded irony refers to as its Human Rights Council, issued, as unfailingly in every previous international incident involving Israel it has, a condemnation as well.

Richard Allen: WTF?

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 15:36:00 +0000

Reading over Richard Allen's op-ed in the New York Times today, I asked myself whether the author isn't suffering from the same mental infliction suffered by his beloved President Ronald Reagan. Allen, U.S. national security adviser in the early '80s, recalls his memory of Reagan's reaction to Israel's strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 (twenty-nine years ago today) only to compare it, shamefully, with the recent Mavi Marmara debacle. He does so with an insidious mixture of nostalgia and dementia that must be making Reagan smile in his grave.

The point of Allen's narrative is to caution against knee-jerk negative reaction to "daring, risky" Israeli military operations. Even high-ranking officials in Reagan's administration, including VP George H.W. Bush, Chief of Staff James Baker, and presidential aide Michael Deaver, advocated punitive actions against Israel in the wake of the surprise strike on Saddam's nuclear materials testing reactor in 1981, Allen remembers. But the most sober and far-sighted in the situation room--Reagan himself--after hearing all points of view on Israel, only "smiled and turned to the papers on his desk," and, when he did speak directly on Israeli policy, offered only private and pithy pearls of wisdom such as "Boys will be boys." There seems to be an implicit warning here to President Obama to curb any enthusiasm he might possibly have for condemning Israeli military policy, in this case regarding the Gaza blockade - or, more ominously, potential future Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Beyond the Alzheimerish absurdity of comparing a planned strike with botched crowd control, I find this an example of the worst kind of American staythecoursiveness with regard to Israel.(image)

Report by Turkish Newspaper Hurriyet Strengthens IDF Account

Sun, 06 Jun 2010 11:54:00 +0000

An article published today in Hurriyet, one of Turkey's biggest newspapers, strengthens some of the accounts provided by IDF soldiers of what happened after they landed on board the ship. The article has a link to a collection of photos restored from memory cards that belonged to activists on board the ship. It shows three bloodied soldiers being dragged below deck by activists. It also documents the activists holding knives and iron bars. According to the Hurriyet article, which was summarized by Haaretz, the IDF seized cameras and deleted photos from their memory cards, but the files were later restored using standard memory card software. Some activists also concealed their cameras or dimmed them.(image)

Sat, 05 Jun 2010 19:08:00 +0000


I've mapped out the home provinces of each of the activists who were killed and placed a marker in each province's capital. The data are based on a Zaman article (Turkish English-language newspaper) that appeared last weekend.

Those who died appear to have been from all over Turkey. They may well have met up before and prepared/trained together in the months that preceded the flotilla, but they're not all from the same approximate area (other than most of them being from Anatolia). We probably cannot derive too much meaning from geographical plot, but it does help rule out the hypothesis that I had considered according which the people who attacked the soldiers were a bunch of young people from the same small town. TO the contrary, the median and mean age of those killed was about 31.

My assumption is that most of those killed were directly engaged in fighting with the soldiers, but it's possible that some people were in the wrong place at the wrong time. What's clear is that the actions of a small group of hot heads completely changed the mind state of the boarding party and increased the threat perception they had, compelling the soldiers to use lethal force.

Details from Shayetet 13 Operation on Marmara

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 15:24:00 +0000

The Jerusalem Post has an exclusive interview with S. who took part in the operation, who is described as "the 15th and last Shayetet 13 commando to rappel onto the ship." His description paints a totally different picture of the events than we have received in most of the international media until now. From the perspective of the soldier, the melee on the Marmara was an organized ambush carried out by trained fighters who used the cover of the flotilla to attempt to capture or kill Israeli soldiers.

Quotations from the article:

The attackers had already seized two pistols from the commandos, and fired repeatedly at them. Facing more than a dozen of the mercenaries, and convinced their lives were in danger, he and his colleagues opened fire, he said. S. singlehandedly killed six men. His colleagues killed another three.

Based on preliminary results of its investigation into the navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara, which ended with nine dead passengers and more than 30 wounded, the IDF said on Thursday that the commandos were attacked by a well-trained group of mercenaries, most of whom were found without IDs but with thousands of dollars in their pockets.

The group was well trained and was split into a number of squads of about 20 mercenaries each distributed throughout the upper deck, the IDF said. All of the mercenaries wore gas masks and ceramic bulletproof vests and were armed with either bats, slingshots, metal bars, knives or stun grenades.

The IDF’s understanding is that the mercenaries mainly chose dual-purpose items of this sort rather than guns, since opening fire would have made it blatantly clear that they were terrorists and not so-called peace activists.
T. said he realized the group they were facing was well-trained and likely ex-military after the commandos threw a number of stun grenades and fired warning shots before rappelling down onto the deck. “They didn’t even flinch,” he said. “Regular people would move.”

Each squad of the “mercenaries” was equipped with a Motorola communication device, the IDF said, so they could pass information to one another. Assessments in the defense establishment are that members of the group were affiliated with international global jihad elements and had undergone training in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Preliminary Results from Navy Investigation

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 15:07:00 +0000

Here is the timeline of events that the Israeli navy arrived at in its investigation, as reported by Ha'aretz:Monday, 4:30 AM operation on Mavi Marmara begins. It was targeted because "of the presence of hard-core activists including members of the IHH." Operation was supervised by Navy chief Eliezer Marom and the head of naval commandos, Lt. Col. A., who were on vessels next to the Marmara. First four commandos who rappelled onto the ship were attacked with bars, axes, and knives. Team leader had his personal weapon taken away and activists were pointing it at his head. After jumping off the rope, the fourth commando shot the activist holding the gun. This took place 20 seconds after the first commando had landed. The commanders of this first unit to land were among those to land first.10 more soldiers were able to land, after the original rope was fixed by one of those who had already landed. 10 more soldiers rappelled onto the ship. They cared for the wounded and took over the upper deck of the ship.4:32 AM Lt. Col. A. gives orders by radio to use live fire (in the article, this event appears after other incidents, but the narrative explains that the order was given "two minutes after the incident had begun")4:36 AM: a second force landed from another helicopter, led by a major. Commandos on board the ship realize that 3 soldiers are missing; they begin a search for them. Naval commando chief Lt. Col. A. boards the ship along with dozen other soldiers who climbed aboard from boats or landed from a 3rd helicopter. During the search for the missing soldiers, there is "limited shooting" on the bridge and in the lower deck, until the 3 missing soldiers are recovered. Soldiers reported that they were fired upon (time not mentioned in summary of report). At least two commandos suffered gunshot wounds. 9mm casings were found - this is ammunition not used by the commandos, so the conclusion was that these were fired by people on the ship. The captain of the Marmara told the naval commando chief Lt. Col. A. that guns used by activists were thrown overboard before the complete takeover of the ship by the commandos. Several handguns and an M-4 rifle were taken from soldiers. Altogether between 60-100 activists were involved in the fighting. They were apparently well-trained, judging from the weapons they had and code books which were found containing orders passed from group leaders. The rioters included Turks, Yemenis, Afghans and one Eritrean; all were experienced in hand-to-hand fighting. Even after shots were fired, some of them did not retreat. The security forces had trained extensively for the operation, with a ship at sea holding 50 soldiers playing the role of activists. The scenario envisioned was more like a demonstration at Bil'in - a village on the seams of Israel's security fence ("wall").Commandos were not prepared for the possibility of dozens of rioters attacking them as they landed.The report does not explain at which points exactly the 8 other activists were killed. It claims that all of these casualties were of the hardcore, trained fighters. [...]

Imagine Israelis Protesting in Lebanon or Yemen...

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 02:08:00 +0000

An article published today in Ha'aretz (no English version available yet) by Fadi Ayadat indicates that almost all of the hundreds of activists from the Gaza Flotilla were deported today, save for seven individuals whose injuries did not permit their transport. The majority of activists (450), including, apparently, Europeans, were flown to Turkey, but another 100 from different parts of the Arab world, were sent off to the Allenby Bridge, which is generally used by Palestinians to enter Jordan. Previous news reports indicated that there were even individuals from Yemen among the activists. Most interesting to me was the fact that 5 activists were Lebanese and deported back to Lebanon via the Rosh ha-Niqra crossing between Lebanon and Israel.

One female representative of the Turkish Red Crescent who came to oversee the deportation of Turkish citizens was quoted as saying that the injured activists had been treated well in Israeli hospitals and that they did not face any overt hostility from the local population while treated.

Can anyone imagine Israeli civilians going to Turkey or a country in the Arab world to participate in a major act of civil disobedience, or to clash with the local authorities? It would be absolutely unthinkable.(image)

Footage by Marmara Activists

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 18:35:00 +0000

This video shows soldiers in a speedboat attempting to board the Marmara as people on the ship shoot water hoses, throw a stun grenade, and hit the soldiers with a metal chain.

(object) (embed)

Analysis of Flotilla Video

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 18:23:00 +0000

Highlights use of paintball guns and speculates about tactics used by commandos boarding the Marmara.

(object) (embed)