Israel may award a medal of valour to a Navy commando who saved his comrades during last week's bloody battle on the Mavi Marmara, according to the Times Online.
The soldier, identified only as Staff Sergeant S., killed six of the attackers who set upon the commandos as they boarded the vessel, one of six in the flotilla that tried to break the Gaza blockade.
Staff Sergeant S. said he was the last of the 15 commandos to reach the deck, which he described to reporters as a full-scale “battlefield.”
Dozens of Muslim extremists armed with knives, clubs and metal rods awaited the commandos as they slid down a rope onto the deck, one by one, from a helicopter hovering above the ship. They dragged each one off the rope, beating and stabbing them, and then tossing them overboard to the deck below.
Contrary to initial reports, said the commando, the shooting began within minutes of the attack. Three of his superior officers were already wounded by the time he landed on deck. Two had been shot – one in the stomach, the second in the knee. The third had been beaten unconscious.
“When I hit the deck, I was immediately attacked by people with bats, metal pipes and axes,” he related. “There were without a doubt terrorists. I could see the murderous rage in their eyes, and that they were coming to kill us.”
The commandos, unprepared for the violence, had boarded the vessel with only with paintball guns and pistols. Several of the terrorists snatched the guns from the soldiers and shot them. Staff Sergeant S. formed his men around the wounded to protect them, and fired his 9mm Glock pistol at the terrorists who had snatched the guns from his comrades. One was holding a gun to an Israeli soldier's head.
Staff Sergeant S. concurs with other IDF officials who believe that many of those who attacked the commandos were in fact paid mercenaries. The accusation came following the discovery of thousands of dollars in cash in a number of the terrorists' pockets during a search for weapons following the battle. Many of the terrorists, alive, wounded, and dead, were carrying precisely the same amount of money.
The commandos were tasked with taking control of the vessel and bringing it to the Ashdod port. Expecting peace activists, they were instead greeted with armed terrorists. Many were Turks, and included members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Also among them was a Palestinian Authority Arab holding dual citizenship from the Netherlands; a top Hamas official, he heads the group's European support network.
Minister of Interior Eli Yishai has asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak to award Citations of Valor to all Navy commandos involved in the flotilla incident. "The warrior's courage is exemplary, and they deserve a citation," he said.