The IDF has confirmed:
In a special meeting of the Security Cabinet it was disclosed that a group of 40 people on board the Mavi Marmara with no identification papers belong to Al Qaeda. The terrorists were equipped with bullet proof vests, night-vision goggles, and weapons.
On board the Mavi Marmara ship that arrived as part of the flotilla to Gaza was a group of approximately 40 people with no identification papers, who are mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization. This was disclosed by the Israeli Security Cabinet, which gathered on Tuesday evening (June 1) for a special meeting.
According to intelligence disclosed during that meeting, the terrorists wore bullet-proof vests, and carried with them night-vision goggles, weapons, and a package of cash. While the civilian protestors were sent to the lower deck during the Shayetet Naval Special Force's interception of the ship, the group divided into cells and remained on the upper deck in order to attack the soldiers.
An announcement delivered at the completion of this special meeting stated that blocking the entrance of these ships into Gaza is an act of self defense. The Cabinet places full responsibility for the incident on those who started the violence which clearly endangered the lives of the IDF soldiers, and commends the IDF for the way it responded. The meeting on this subject will continue on Wednesday (June 2).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the meeting that he regrets all loss of life, but gives full support to the IDF. "This was not a flotilla for peace, but instead was a violent and organized force. We have films and photographs which show what our soldiers faced, but the last thing that can be said about this ship is that it was a flotilla of peace," he said.
"We know from the experience of Operation Cast Lead, and beforehand, that weapons entering the Gaza Strip are used against our civilians. Within Gaza there is a terror state aided by Iran, and therefore we attempt to prevent the entering of weapons to Gaza by land, air and sea. On the Francop ship alone we caught approximately 200 tons of weapons which were smuggled by Iran to Hezbollah,“ he added.
The Prime Minister emphasized that "Opening a martime channel to Gaza will present a grave danger to the security of our civilians. Therefore we are upholding the policies of the maritime blockade, and check the ships. There is no possibility to establish these policies without checking the contents of the ships. It is true that there is international pressure on and criticism of this policy, but we must understand that it is necessary in order to ensure the security of Israel and her right to self defense."
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