Turkish book on the Mavi Marmara...
Some interesting insights...
1. Several books about the flotilla incident have been recently published in Turkey. One of them was written by Şefik Dinç, a reporter for the popular Turkish newspaper Habertürk, who was on board the Mavi Marmara during the last flotilla. Şefik Dinçcaptured images of the violent confrontation between IHH operatives and their supporters on one hand and IDF soldiers on the other, concealed his photographs from the Israeli security forces, and managed to smuggle them into Turkey.
2. Şefik Dinç's account is fairly balanced, giving considerable weight to events that he personally witnessed and experienced. While the IHH narrative is given at length, the author does not hesitate to expose the extreme violence used by IHH operatives against the IDF and criticize the Turkish government for not stopping the flotilla. “Let’s face it: the Mavi Marmara crisis was a calculated gamble,” writes Dinç in the foreword to his book. “People on the street said that Israel would not let the siege be broken. The Turkish government, by not preventing the incident, and the IHH, by insisting on entering Gaza, led to a harsh, non-compromising reaction from Israel, destabilizing the Middle East region again”.
3. The photographs and verbal descriptions match the plenty of information, according to which IHH operatives had made a well-designed plan to conduct a violent confrontation with the IDF. The author photographed IHH operatives beating IDF soldiers with iron bars and clubs (taken from a secret stash), kidnapping three of them, beating injured IDF soldiers after they were kidnapped, and trying to throw one of them into the sea. The journalist, who had earlier heard IHH leader Bulent Yildirim say in an interview that the resistance would be passive, witnessed and documented so-called “passive resistance” turning practically into violent behavior.
4. The author’s description clearly shows that IDF soldiers did not open fire until after other soldiers were attacked and taken hostage. He also quoted Bulent Yildirim’s deputy Hüseyin Oruç as saying that there had been no attempts from the Turkish government to recall the ships or prevent the flotilla from sailing.
5. Following is a selection of photographs and descriptions from the book concerning the preparations made by IHH operatives and their supporters for the confrontation, giving the reader a good idea of the extreme violence they used against IDF soldiers. In some cases, we chose to verify those descriptions against the information we have on the confrontation.
6. In his book, Şefik Dinç mentions that the volunteers on board the Mavi Marmara held lively discussions about the possibility of Israel attacking the ship. The operatives were ready for any scenario and even expressed their readiness to die, as long as the “siege” was broken (pp. 23-24). That description matches the information we have collected, according to which seven out of the nine people killed had declared themselves one way or another willing to die as shaheeds prior to the violent confrontation (see our July 12, 2010 Information Bulletin: “According to well-documented information, seven of the nine Turks killed in the violent confrontation aboard the Mavi Marmara had previously declared their desire to become shaheeds (martyrs). Eight of them belonged to Islamist Turkish organizations and not one of them was a peace activist or human rights worker”).
7. While waiting for the confrontation, some operatives began training for a potential Israeli attack. They practiced using fire hoses to thwart possible attempts by IDF soldiers to board the ship; they were instructed on the use of gas masks and told how to resist Israeli soldiers. They were also told that, as soon as the ship entered Israel’s territorial waters, additional guards would be deployed and passengers would be given a warning signal. Each person in charge of passenger security was given a specific location to report to when the alarm sounded (pp. 36-37).
8. Once contact was made between the Mavi Marmara and Israeli navy boats, the ship’s passengers were woken up by IHH operatives and their supporters, who gave the passengers lifebelts and gas masks and prepared them for a confrontation with the IDF soldiers. When everyone who had been assigned a task reported to their (pre-determined) stations, clubs were taken out of a hiding place. “In addition to the wooden clubs I’d seen earlier, there were now iron bars as well”. “They were made from the railing around the ship” (p. 43).2 Şefik Dinç’s description matches a great deal of reliable information we have in our possession, and strongly contradicts Bulent Yildirim’s remark (made at a press conference called during the flotilla’s voyage) that “we don’t even have one pocket knife” (p. 39).3
9. “According to what I saw,” says Şefik Dinç, “resistance to a possible boarding attempt by Israeli soldiers is not going to be that passive” (p. 43).4 From time to time, the leader of IHH was seen giving terse instructions. As it turned out, “there was some discrepancy between the passive resistance [mentioned by Yildirim] and the preparations for [active] resistance that were taking place at the time.”5 It was in that setting, writes Dinç, that journalists took their cameras and started documenting those moments and sending them back to their newspapers (p. 43).