June 1, 2010


Frames from an enhanced-light video distributed by the Israeli Defense Forces

The problem with still or moving imagery produced in evidence is that it can sometimes show more than had been intended. The frames above are from a two minute, forty second video produced and distributed by the Israeli Defense Forces in order to justify yesterday's attack on the vessels of the Free Gaza flotilla. The first minute or so is particularly dramatic, and has been marked up to underscore the violent nature of the response to armed Israeli commandos dropping on the Mavi Marmara in the middle of the night: the passengers certainly appear to be beating at least one of the intruders with sticks of some kind (the video calls them "metal rods"), and another unfortunate is pushed over the side, to land on the deck below. However, within seconds the passengers are seen to be beating a hasty retreat away from the commandos (on the right in the images), who are brandishing what are clearly handguns; since there were at least ten deaths amongst the defenders, we may take it for granted that the guns were sooner or later used to fire live ammunition.

In a televised statement yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified the deaths in these words: "They deliberately attacked the first soldiers who came on the ship. They were mobbed, they were clubbed, they were beaten, stabbed, there was even a report of gunfire, and our soldiers had to defend themselves or they would have been killed. And regrettably, in this exchange at least ten people died". A justification eerily reminiscent of the old courtroom joke, "The defendant proceeded to attack the police officer's boot with his face".

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