VIDEO: IDF Uses Armed Soldiers, Water Cannon to Board Freedom Waves Vessels

Earlier today, the two ships that compose the Freedom Waves flotilla to Gaza--the Saoirse and the Tahrir--were commandeered by the Israeli Defense Forces. The IDF has since released two videos.

One video portrays the boarding of both vessels and is heavily edited. Still, we can clearly see the use of a water cannon on the Tahrir, and armed soldiers boarding the Saoirse, with a water cannon close by. At the very end of this video, all the way to the right, you can see an IDF soldier raising his hand gun as he advances into the passenger section of the boat. At least one soldier looks to be carrying an automatic rifle. If this is the edited version released by the IDF themselves, what could be in the unedited version?

The second video is also heavily edited. It presents us with a view of the radio communication between the IDF and the Tahrir. Pay attention to the cuts--especially the audio cuts:

Here's a transcript:

IDF Soldier 1: Motor Vessel Tahrir, this is the Israeli navy. The Gaza area and coastal region is closed to all maritime traffic as part of a maritime blockade imposed for security purposes on the Gaza strip. Your attempt to enter the Gaza strip by sea is a violation of international law. We remind you that humanitarian supply may be delivered to the Gaza strip by land. You are therefore welcome to enter Ashdod port and deliver the supplied to the recognized land crossings."

[CUT]

IDF Soldier 2 (I believe this is one is different than the first): What is your destination?

[VIDEO CUT, POSSIBLE AUDIO CUT]

Tahrir: Port of Gaza.

[CUT]

IDF Soldier 1: What is your port of origin?

[VIDEO CUT, POSSIBLE AUDIO CUT]

Tahrir (different voice than previous): Turkey.

[CUT]

IDF Soldier 1: What is your cargo?

[VIDEO CUT, POSSIBLE AUDIO CUT]

Tahrir: We have no cargo.

[CUT]

IDF Soldier 1: How many passengers do you carry?

[VIDEO CUT, POSSIBLE AUDIO CUT]

Tahrir: We have twelve people.

[CUT]

Tahrir (new person): Your blockade of Gaza is not legal.

Of course, it's possible that much of this footage was staged, but even if it wasn't, there is still much to be concerned about: there are an awful lot of cuts in this video, as you can see. This video was released by the IDF, so we should assume that cuts that were made were done in order to make the IDF look as good as possible. The IDF soldier's messages are calm and by the book; the discussion is cut in a way to make the communication seem direct and professional. But what happened during the cut moments? Reports were received from the Canadian boat that, when the Tahrir was asked what its final destination was, Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef replied, “the conscience of humanity.” When the IDF repeated the question asking for final destination, Lotayef said, “the betterment of mankind.” But this is not included in the IDF's video. What else isn't included?

The oddest feature, though, is the addition at the end, of the line "your blockade of Gaza is not legal." The video jump cuts, and it's also a clear audio cut. The IDF wanted to include this audio bite. Why? Do they think the claim that the Israeli blockade is illegal is a crazy notion? Probably. But notice that all of the voices previously featured from the Tahrir sounded North American or European. Perhaps the IDF wanted to include an audio clip of an Arab-accented male making what they and many misinformed individuals believe to be an anti-Israel statement. That would fit their propaganda that the flotilla is organized by antisemitic Muslims looking to drive Israel into the sea. Please. For those of us who know that the blockade of Gaza is, in actuality, a crime against humanity, and that this flotilla is about freeing Gazans from their open-air prison, this sound bite is the most truthful and powerful aspect of this video. Unfortunately, I believe the IDF had more sinister intentions in including it.

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