An Israeli naval commando, said to have shot dead six of the nine people killed on the Turkish ship carrying activists heading to Gaza, has given an account to an Israeli newspaper of the lethal events on the Mavi Marmara.
The staff-sergeant in the elite Shayetet 13 naval special forces unit – named only as 'S' in the Jerusalem Post – is quoted as saying he was immediately attacked when he reached the deck, the last of 15 commandos to come down by rope from a Blackhawk helicopter. He said he had not expected to find a "battlefield". The report says he saw three of his commandos lying wounded, one with a gunshot wound to the stomach and another who had been shot in the knee.
According to the paper, a third was lying unconscious, having been hit in the head with a metal bar. The Israeli military says that passengers opened fire with pistols stolen from earlier naval boarders, an accusation denied by the flotilla's organisers. S took charge, the paper says, pushing wounded soldiers against the wall of the upper deck and created a perimeter of soldiers around them to treat their wounds. He says he pulled out his 9mm Glock pistol to "stave off" the attackers and protect the wounded commandos.
"When I hit the deck, I was immediately attacked by people with bats, metal pipes and axes," S said. "These were without a doubt terrorists. I could see the murderous rage in their eyes and that they were coming to kill us."
The paper says S was accompanied to the interview by his senior officer, Lieutenant-Colonel T, who said: "S did a remarkable job. He stabilised the situation and succeeded in hitting six of the terrorists."
The other three were killed by other commandos. The paper reports that the commandos said they opened fire within a minute and half of boarding the ship because of the "extreme violence".
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