A high-ranking leader of the Free Gaza Movement, a coalition of human rights activists and pro-Palestinian groups formed to challenge the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, appears to have corroborated Israel’s previously challenged version of the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid that resulted in the death of 10 Turkish activists.
Greta Berlin, a co-founder and spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement, made comments in a secret British Facebook group that seem to corroborate accounts that members of the Israeli armed services did not open fire until one of the activists attempted to disarm one of the troops, according to the Times of Israel.
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a group of three passenger and three cargo ships organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief in an attempt to breach the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Tensions arose when Israel offered to inspect the six civilians ships that had been chartered to carry what the Free Gaza Movement claimed to be humanitarian supplies and construction material to the Gaza Strip. Israel also offered to transport the supplies via land crossings, but the activists turned down the offer. Israeli armed services than conducted a raid on the six ships in an effort to force the flotilla to the port of Ashdod, where it could be inspected.
While attempting to seize control of the flotilla, Israeli defense forces faced resistance on one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara. What exactly occurred on the ship has long been disputed. The Israeli government has alleged that IDF commandos were attacked with clubs, knives, and metal rods while attempting to board the ship. The government has stated it was forced to open fire after a passenger grabbed a weapon from one of the commandos.
A few years later, Berlin seems to have corroborated the Israeli government’s report during a heated debate in a private Facebook group comprised of pro-Palestinian activists who had all been approved or invited to join. In her comments, which were written in 2014, Berlin specifically rebuked other social media users in the group who were attempting to absolve one of the activists onboard the ship, Kenneth O’Keefe, from any blame.
“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,” Berlin wrote.
Other comments that Berlin posted in the group also seem to back up the Israeli government’s account of the incident.
In one post, Berlin says O’Keefe, a long time anti-Israel activist and former U.S. Marine who renounced his U.S. citizenship, took “actions” that “put others on the Mavi Marmara at risk.”