A motley crew of Turkish Islamists, European leftists and Israeli Arab leaders yesterday succeeded in provoking a bloody clash with Israeli forces that were enforcing an arms embargo against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.  Six ships with more than 600 “peace activists” left Cyprus bound for Gaza but were intercepted by the Israeli Navy and special forces commandos before they could land in Gaza.  The first five ships complied with Israeli forces, but the passengers aboard the sixth vessel, the Mavi Marmara, attacked Israeli commandos with steel poles, knives and pepper spray, provoking a battle that claimed at least nine lives.

According to an eyewitness account by a reporter:

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.

Caught off-guard by the violent attacks of the “peace activists,” the Israeli commandos were compelled to use firearms in self-defense.  Many of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara were believed to be members of a Turkish Islamist charity organization, the Humanitarian Relief Fund, that has a long history of support for radical Islamist causes and deploying jihadists to Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.  The Humanitarian Relief Fund is part of an umbrella group, the Union for Good, that was created by Hamas leaders in 2000 to aid fundraising for Hamas’s radical Islamist agenda.  The U.S. government has designated the Union for Good as a terrorist organization.

The U.N. Security Council called for an investigation of the incident.  The United States must take steps to insure that such an investigation does not devolve into a one-sided propaganda exercise like the U.N.’s Goldstone Commission, which investigated Israel’s 2008 war against Hamas in Gaza. At a minimum, the investigation must take into account the provocative actions, Islamist agenda and ideological ties between the violent “peace activists” and the Hamas terrorists who benefited from their activities.  After all, the reason Israel maintains the blockade on Gaza is to prevent arms from being smuggled in to Hamas and other terrorist groups which have a long history of hiding among Palestinian civilians to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians