A significant number of BBC reports relating to the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010 still remain accessible online and many of the later ones present a ‘he said-she said’ account of events.
For example, a report published in January 2011 states:
“Israel says its commandos used live fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and guns.
But activists on board the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara say the commandos started shooting as soon as they boarded the vessel.”
“At the time, the Israeli military said its commandos fired live rounds only after being attacked with clubs, knives and guns. But activists on board said the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck.”
Under the sub-heading “Who started the violence?” an article from June 2016 tells BBC audiences that:
“This is disputed. The activists say the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck. Israeli officials say the commandos opened fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and a gun which was taken from them. Video released by the Israeli military stops just before the shooting begins. A UN inquiry was apparently unable to determine at exactly which point the commandos used live fire.”
Interestingly, some of the BBC’s earlier reports presented a less vague picture.
In an article dating from June 2010, the BBC’s Paul Reynolds quoted an Israeli journalist:
“The reporter states that the protesters “attempted to wrest away [the soldiers’] weapons”. They got hold of one handgun, he says, when one soldier, seen on the video, was thrown from the upper deck on to the lower. […]
The Israelis claim that the activists got hold of two pistols and must have fired them as their magazines were found to be empty when recovered.”
In another June 2010 article titled “Activists describe Israeli raid on Gaza aid convoy” the leader of the IHH is quoted as saying that:
“…some of the activists had grabbed the guns off soldiers in self-defence.
“Yes, we took their guns. It would be self-defence even if we fired their guns. We told our friends on board: ‘We will die, become martyrs, but never let us be shown… as the ones who used guns’. By this decision, our friends accepted death, and we threw all the guns we took from them into the sea.””
As those who have read David Collier’s two-part report about the secret Facebook Group called ‘Palestine Live’ will be aware, Israel’s account of the events aboard the ship has inadvertently been supported by one of its members – Greta Berlin – who was quoted in a 2010 BBC profile of the Mavi Marmara flotilla organisers.
The Times of Israel sums up that story:
“A leading pro-Palestinian campaigner involved in the flotilla that attempted to enter Gaza in May 2010 has appeared to corroborate Israel’s version of the events which led to the bloody confrontation on board the Mavi Marmara. […]
In newly revealed posts from a secret British Facebook group, Greta Berlin, the co-founder and spokesperson of the Free Gaza Movement, states that the Israeli troops did not open fire until after Ken O’Keefe, a former US marine aboard the Mavi Marmara, had seized a gun from one of them. […]
“He was responsible for some of the deaths on board the Mavi Marmara. Had he not disarmed an Israeli terrorist soldier, they would not have started to fire. That’s enough. Most of you have no idea what you’re talking about,” she wrote.”
As the ToI notes, Berlin’s 2014 posts at ‘Palestine Live’ contradict the messaging she gave to the international media – including the BBC – immediately following the May 2010 incident. The BBC also interviewed O’Keefe less than a month after the incident.
Obviously the BBC would do well to review the accounts of events that appear in its available content relating to the Mavi Marmara incident in light of those posts from Greta Berlin.