After the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara, accusations and rumors flew fast and thick. Highly edited videos released by the IDF and activist supporters did little to inform what actually happened that night. Now, a one hour long, high definition, and unedited video has been released (also available here). The footage was taken by Cultures of Resistance director Lara Lee.

I am not a surface warfare expert and I have not watched the video all the way through yet, so I will refrain from making uneducated comments. There is plenty of room for USNI readers to do that in the comments section. To get what I suspect will be a vibrant discussion started, here are the time codes for some moments of interest:

10:00 Al Jazeera reporter summarizes what has happened to the flotilla up until that time. Namely, that the Mavi Marmara was being tracked by the IDF and that the organizers changed the flotilla’s course to avoid a nighttime confrontation.

16:00 On being asked will happen when the IDF comes, a man off-camera says that the IDF soldiers will be thrown off the ship. Pressed further by the interviewer, he mentions that there is a group of people “not like us, [they don’t] come from an easy life… they are always ready for these things” and that they are ready to fight.

36:00 IDF small boat attack is repelled. Despite earlier reports to the contrary soldiers did not fire live rounds, they are indisputably firing paintball guns (shown in the screen capture below, I have adjusted the contrast and brightness to get a clear picture).

36:17 Something (firearm, flaregun, firework) appears to be fired from the Mavi Marmara towards the IDF small boat. A screen capture is provided below. It looks like fireworks to me, but I encourage you to watch it and decide for yourself.

39:00 That infamous red “blood” on the ladder is shown, used as proof the IDF fired live rounds before boarding. However, when asked a passenger says that they are from IDF paintballs and not blood (his comments are suspiciously absent from an earlier edited video made from the same footage by Lara Lee).

40:00 IDF Fast-roping from helicopter onto top deck.

42:00 Slingshots shot at helicopter, screen capture is below.

43:00 Gunshots can be heard from off-camera. Wounded man shown carried down staircase into what appears to be the medical area. Passenger mentions that two wounded IDF soldiers had been carried down just before.

50:00 Activists armed with pipes and other weapons make a stand at what looks like the top of the staircase shown before. IDF gunshots can be heard close by (maybe at one activist near the top of the stairs).

52:00 Activists on the staircase shows a helmet, presumably from a wounded IDF soldier.

53:00 Wounded activists, with what appears to be gun wounds, are shown.

55:40 Captain (I am assuming) makes an announcement of the PA system.

58:00 IDF small boat team appears to board. Captain makes an appeal in English for the passengers to stop fighting and go back to their cabins, warning that the IDF is using live ammunition.

60:00 Mavi Marmara is no longer moving. Announcement from female voice makes appeal to the IDF.

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy

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  • Rick Wilmes

    I watched the video, and find it interesting who the source is.  Cultures of Resistance evades the fact that Hamas and their Islamic Totalitarian ilk use violence and force to subjugate their victims.

    I found the following Cultures of Resistance statement of interest.  Why not resist the violence and hate coming from Hamas and the rest of the Islamic Totalitarian ilk that seeks to destroy Western values of individual rights and liberty?

    ” The project will explore more effective means to respond to hostile use of language – as well as explore how better to insist on extending public debate beyond its standard focus on ‘Islamist violence’ – by launching a ‘positive’ (non-defensive) discourse on Islamism. In partnership with a wide number of social activist and public campaign groups, we aim to advocate for a shift in language from the defensive to the positive; to learn how others, in different struggles, have achieved this transition; and by this means, and by gaining greater critical mass, to open space in which a discourse of rebuttal and ‘resistance’ can be developed through visual and other means to imposed narratives and stereotyping. The aim is the change the terms of debate and to move to a more directly challenging, but more widely accessible, advocacy of understanding of Islamist ideology.”

  • McNubowitz

    Slingshots against helicopters. Sounds cribbed straight out of 1 Samuel 17.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    The use of red paintballs (if accurate as portrayed) is another easily changable tactical decision that did nothing to help the Israelis in shaping public opinion.


  • Agree Benjamin, in fact, when I used to play paintball (long time ago) red paintballs were not allowed on the field because they were indistinguishable from blood.

    Personally, this seems like an error stemming from organizational goals. Higher-ups told the teams to use paintballs for the strategic benefit (proportional response), operators fulfilled the letter of the order but used red paint for the tactical benefit (impossible to quickly distinguish between a bleeding wound and a hit from a paintball)

  • Rick Wilmes

    Hmmm??? A discussion about the proper color of paintballs to be used.  You can’t be serious.  This flotilla was attempting to break a blockade imposed on the corrupt government of Hamas.

    Public opinion has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist and defend itself from Its enemies.

  • Benjamin Walthrop


    “Public opinion has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist and defend itself from Its enemies.”

    I don’t know what I suggested that called into question Israel’s right to exist or defend itself from its enemies. All that aside, I suspect that the Free Gaza Movement (as transparent and telegraphed as their motives were) does not represent an immediate existential threat to the state of Israel. If the flotilla did in fact represent an immediate existential threat as you seem to imply, your argument taken to it’s logical conclustion would allow (or perhaps even call) for the sinking of the flotilla with missiles, bombs, torpedos, etc.

    As Israel showed restraint in this area, I suspect that even they understand that in a democracy public opion does very much matter in the prosecution of any war. When many of your political and military supporters on the world stage are also democracies of one form or another, public opinion and the tactical decisions to support or detract from the information component of the campaign do play a non-trivial role in success over the long haul.

    My critique over the tactical decisions (as serious or as non-serious as it may be) was merely meant to point out that seemingly trivial tactical decisions (in this case very easily mitigated decisions) may have a broader strategic context, and military professionals should be insightful enough to consider these impacts on the operations they plan.


  • Rick Wilmes

    “My critique over the tactical decisions (as serious or as non-serious as it may be) was merely meant to point out that seemingly trivial tactical decisions (in this case very easily mitigated decisions) may have a broader strategic context, and military professionals should be insightful enough to consider these impacts on the operations they plan.”

    And I think it is absurd that military professionals, Israeli or American need to consider what color paint ball they are using.  In fact the use of paintballs in and of itself is absurd as far as I am concerned.  

  • Awetherhorn

    Just caught up with this thread. – It leaves some open questions.
    1) The pro-Palestinians were broadcasting footage to Turkish TV right from the start. The people photographing from on board hardly seem like an unbiased source, but their material was originally broadcast without editing. That’s why the fist videos show the guy with a bloody knife stabbing one of the Israelis. Later versions edited this scene.
    2) The flotilla might not pose an existential threat, but a successful voyage would constitute a break of the blockade and open the door for free transfer of any and all kinds of weaponry.
    3) Arming Hamas via maritime routes has been tried before. The lack of success hasn’t kept them from trying again. When the KARIN A was intercepted at sea, the next shipload was transferred to trucks and driven up the East coast of Egypt. The IDF/AF bombed the convoy. There were no complaints because, it seems, the Egyptians are also not anxious to have an armed Islamic Extremist faction on their border.
    4) The US is pushing for a negotiated settlement, and the Fatah side, led by Mahmoud Abbas, is making a lot of the right noises that it thinks Washington wants to hear. What they are NOT doing is preaching co-existence to their own population. When asked about this on his recent trip to the US Abbas NEVER gave an answer. Abbas was almost as evasive as Ahmedinejad. When the Iranian was interviewed live by Larry King he did everything to avoid admitting that there was a Holocaust.
    The last point is really that there is a lot to do in order to reach a viable solution and it doesn’t just involve Hamas suddenly making a magical turn around and agreeing (in English) that Yes, Israel has a right to exist and, No, we won’t continue to use violence to carry on the struggle.

  • Scott

    With regards to the possible gunfire flash at 03:19, I think this may simply be as spotlight like the one visible at 32:22. You can see spotlights being used at 33:00 and shined on the approaching boats at 35:54. The suspicious flashes are not accompanied by sounds of gunfire, other than the popping noises which sound more cosistent with the IDF paintball guns. There is at least one “bang” at 36:13, 36:54 and 37:19. Also, if you watch from around 36:06 to 36:10, you’ll see a spotlight on the water and intersecting the mast of the boarding boat; if you trace the illumination source back to the vessel being boarded, it lines up perfectly with the “muzzle flash”. I’m pretty convinced that the “muzzle flash” is in fact just sea spray being illuminated by the spotlight. Not saying there weren’t small arms present… just that this probably isn’t evidence of it.