When placed under journalistic scrutiny, the IDF is being forced to admit that its claims about the flotilla’s links to international terror are based on innuendo, not facts. On June 2, the IDF blasted out a press release to reporters and bloggers with the shocking headline: “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries.” The only supporting evidence offered in the release was a claim that the passengers “were equipped with bullet proof vests, night vision goggles, and weapons...”Take nothing for granted on this issue. If the source is an interested party, then they have an incentive to misdirect, misinform, or out-and-out bullshit you. This applies to the activists just as much as the IDF, of course. I'm certainly not entirely convinced that the IDF were tossing people overboard. But the IDF has a lot more to hide, and they're the ones who were seizing cameras and recording devices.
...Not content to believe that night vision goggles signal membership in Al Qaeda, Israel-based freelance reporter Lia Tarachansky and I called the IDF press office to ask for more conclusive evidence. Tarachansky reached the IDF’s Israel desk, interviewing a spokesperson in Hebrew; I spoke with the North America desk, using English. We both received the same reply from Army spokespeople: “We don’t have any evidence. The press release was based on information from the [Israeli] National Security Council.” (The Israeli National Security Council is Netanyahu’s kitchen cabinet of advisors).
Today, the Israeli Army’s press office changed the headline of its press release (see below), basically retracting its claim about the flotilla’s Al Qaeda links. The new headline reads: “Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers” (the top of the browser screen still contains the original headline about Al Qaeda). The more Israel’s claims about the flotilla’s terrorist links are challenged, the more they fall apart.
Edit: But I think I know why this happened. They probably knew they would have to retract this. It doesn't matter. If you state something, then retract it later, it can easily be revived over, and over, and over again as a "zombie lie" by people who are looking to have their prejudices confirmed. That's what's happened with every political issue and international conflict for decades, and the IDF knows full well how well it works. It's disgusting that they'd use it—it's also how those asshole Holocaust deniers work—but they're clearly scared as hell about the international uproar over this and will use every tool they can.
Expect "the activists were tied to AQ" to pop up for a good long time.
(Speaking of tools, I haven't even tried to find out what Dersh is saying about all this yet...)