There are two dramatically different stories of the botched May 31 incident that cost at least ten lives and poisoned relations between Israel and Turkey, and perhaps damaged the relations of both with the United States.
In one version, Israeli forces attacked a peaceful group that was trying to deliver humanitarian relief to the besieged people of Gaza; in the other, violent extremists, in league with Hamas, surrounded themselves with naïve civilians while attacking Israeli forces exercising a legal search of a ship attempting to run a legal blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.
We won’t know the true story for a long time. The best that could happen would be an objective and unbiased inquiry, but that won’t happen. As George Orwell said, “History is written by the winners.” The Israelis won, and they released video showing Israeli commandos sliding down ropes from helicopters and being attacked with what appear to be metal pipes.
The people on the Mavi Marmara took videos, too. All have been confiscated by the Israeli forces, all except one, snuck past the Israelis by San Francisco-based activist Lara Lee, available here. It records sixty minutes, starting about 30 minutes before the commandos boarded the ship. The dialog is mostly in Turkish, perhaps five percent in English. A brief and admittedly amateur analysis of the video is posted on the website of the United States Naval Institute, here.
Like any government that covers up evidence, Israel is damaging its credibility. Israel’s friends and impartial observers will believe Israel has much to hide, else why would they be hiding so much.