Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, who reported from the ship as the raid began, was also sent to Turkey by Israel after being released by the Israelis.So, wait, they were picking people off from the helicopters? With live rounds? How on earth is that "defensive"?
Elshayyal said that he witnessed some of the killings, and confirmed that at least "one person was shot through the top of the head from [the helicopter] above".
Our producer was on the top deck when the ship was attacked and said that within a few minutes of seeing the Israeli helicopters, there were shots being fired from above.
"The first shots [coming from Israeli boats at sea] were tear gas, sounds grenades and rubber coated steel bullets," Elshayyal said.
"Live shots came five minutes after that. There was definetly live fire from the air and from the sea as well."
He confirmed that some passengers took apart some of the ship's railing bars to defend themselves as they saw the Israeli soldiers approaching.
"After the shooting and the first deaths, people put up white flags and signs in English and Hebrew," he said.
"An Israeli [on the ship] asked the soldiers to take away the injured, but they did not, and the injured died on the ship."
And it looks like we now know where the "metal bars" come from. They were railing. Which makes perfect sense, and would have been trivially obvious to anybody who was on the ship. Like, say, the commandos. So why didn't the IDF say anything when they were yelling about the horrible weapons on board?
Edit: And another, from ABC:
The activists on board the ship told a very different version of events from the one released by the Israeli military.
A Canadian on board, Farooq Burney, described watching an elderly man bleed to death. The head of a Turkish charity that organized the aid flotilla said an Indonesian doctor was shot in the stomach and a photographer was shot in the forehead.
"They [Israeli commandos] were trying to land on the boat. So obviously there was this hand-to-hand combat and during that process the people on the boat were basically able to disarm some of the soldiers because they did have guns with them," Burney told Reuters. "So they basically took the guns away from them and took the cartridges out and threw them away."
Speaks for itself.
Asked if anyone had used the guns against the Israeli commandos, Burney said, "No, not at all."