Gaza-bound boat
Gaza-bound boat Israel news photo: Flash 90

An internal IDF review of the takeover of the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara revealed that three soldiers were briefly kidnapped while aboard the vessel. The three were beaten when they boarded the ship and then, when they were wounded and groggy, were dragged to a room within the ship and held there.

A short time later, dozens of their fellow soldiers began searching the ship. When the attacking passengers saw that soldiers had successfully seized control of the Marmara, they released the three captives, the report stated.

The captive soldiers had recovered from their initial disorientation during their time below deck, and once released hurried to join their unit.

IDF commanders reacted to the report with concern. As similar ships continue to make their way to Gaza, there could be a situation in which a soldier is held captive in order to give passengers a bargaining chip, they said, and that must be prevented.

Reuters has published an eyewitness account that backs the IDF report. Andre Abu Khalil, a Lebanese cameraman for the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network, was aboard the Mavi Marmara as IDF soldiers boarded. He told Reuters that four soldiers who were among the first aboard were injured and were taken below deck.

A second wave of troops then attempted to board, he said. “Twenty Turkish men formed a human shield to prevent the Israeli soldiers from scaling the ship. They had slingshots, water pipes and sticks,” he recalled. After a brief standoff, after the first wave had been attacked violently, the Israelis opened fire, he claimed.

IDF troops say they opened fire only after being attacked themselves when they boarded the ship.

A second passenger who spoke to Reuters admitted that passengers on the ship had seized soldiers' weapons before shooting broke out. He denied that the passengers had then tried to turn the guns on the soldiers. However, soldiers claimed they were shot at and examination showed they were wounded by those pistols.