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Several books about the flotilla incident have been recently published in Turkey. One of them was written by Şefik Dinç, a reporter for the popular Turkish newspaper Habertürk, who was on board the Mavi Marmara during the last flotilla.
“Let’s face it: the Mavi Marmara crisis was a calculated gamble,” writes Dinç in the foreword to his book. “People on the street said that Israel would not let the siege be broken. The Turkish government, by not preventing the incident, and the IHH, by insisting on entering Gaza, led to a harsh, non-compromising reaction from Israel, destabilizing the Middle East region again”.
Once contact was made between the Mavi Marmara and Israeli navy boats, the ship’s passengers were woken up by IHH operatives and their supporters, who gave the passengers lifebelts and gas masks and prepared them for a confrontation with the IDF soldiers. When everyone who had been assigned a task reported to their (pre-determined) stations, clubs were taken out of a hiding place. “In addition to the wooden clubs I’d seen earlier, there were now iron bars as well”. “They were made from the railing around the ship” (p. 43)
The operatives waiting on the upper deck put the captive soldiers on the floor. Those soldiers were beaten with iron bars and clubs; they were kicked and slapped. Some operatives attempted to throw the soldiers taken to the lower deck into the sea. A soldier hanging in the air during an attempt to throw him into the sea was rescued thanks to the intervention of other people, who prevented that from happening. The soldiers who had sustained injuries to their faces and heads were taken down to the hall on the second floor. The soldiers had blood on their faces and were very scared. One of them, held by two people who had taken him inside, kept screaming for a doctor (p. 47).
As the soldiers were taken hostage, shots were heard from the helicopter.9 According to Şefik Dinç, the commandos, who had until that point used plastic bullets, switched to live ammunition. Most of the people killed were on the upper deck; however, some were killed or injured on the lower decks as well. Doctors and several operatives who saw the dead claimed that two people had been shot dead in the head (p. 48).
In a short period of about 20 minutes, nine people were killed and over 30 were injured. He added that the number of casualties could have been greater if it wasn’t for the IHH leaders’ call to cease the resistance (p. 48).
During a visit to the US, the Turkish PM’s Chief Advisor Ibrahim Kalin said that the authorities had advised the IHH operatives against sailing: “We tried to convince them, we explained to them the difficulties and the risks, and that they should weigh once again whether or not to set sail (p. 78).