Terrorists on the Mavi Marmara
Terrorists on the Mavi MarmaraIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Only now, more than a year after the violent flotilla incident in which terrorists tried to run Israel's blockade of Gaza, has it been conclusively shown that some of the "humanitarian" flotilla participants were armed with guns.

Photos of passengers on the Marmara ship sporting the guns were published on Tuesday in the Yediot Acharonot daily. It is not clear why the photos were not published until now.

The flotilla, ostensibly organized to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza, was organized by the Turkish organization IHH, of radical Islamic anti-Western orientation and with a history of ties with and fund-raising for Hamas. 

When the ships neared Gaza some 13 months ago, Israel warned them not to attempt to breach its legal blockade of Gaza. However,  the Mavi Marmara ship did not adhere to the orders, and IDF commandos were forced to board the ship and stop it by force. They did not expect to be attacked by the humanitarian aboard the ship, but when they were – including being set upon with metal pipes, chains and knives, having a soldier nearly thrown overboard, and others briefly taken prisoner – they were able to fight back, killing nine of their attackers, including five known terrorists.

The incident led to international headlines for weeks afterwards. The flotilla backers consistently claimed that they had only peaceful intentions – now belied by the new photos.

A United Nations committee is expected to publish its findings on the IHH flotilla incident within a month. Israel's well-documented position that it was within its rights in using force to stop the ships did not receive much play in the international debate, though the UN committee is expected to justify Israel in this regard.

Another anti-Israel flotilla is being planned for the coming weeks.