Despite the repeated commitment of flotilla organizers to nonviolence, their instructions to activists on board reveal that they interpret this broadly enough that these same tactics are liable to cause significant injury to IDF soldiers.
Both the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), prominent organizers of the recently attempted flotilla and the “flytilla”, have adopted a form of confrontation that they call “direct action” which was implemented during last summer’s flotilla.
Tactics they included in the previous flotilla under “direct action” are:
• Recklessly steering the flotilla’s ships in order to endanger the soldiers aboard Israeli Navy vessels. When Navy vessels attempted to prevent ships in the flotilla from breaching the blockade, the flotilla’s crew, in particular the Challenger (owned by the Free Gaza Movement) and Sfendoni (owned by the ECESG) ships steered dangerously close as to put the soldiers at risk for serious injury. The Challenger’s crew steered the boat straight into the direction of one of the IDF speedboats, attempting to run it over. The speedboat had to perform a maneuver to escape. The Sfendoni, too, maneuvered itself so close to an IDF speedboat that it was “on a collision course”, according to a soldier who testifed to the Turkel Commission (pages 180-182). Only by making a quick, sharp turn was the speedboat able to get in back of the ship.
• Verbal abuse such as antisemitic slurs directed at Israeli soldiers. Last year, after IDF naval forces warned flotilla passengers via radio that their boat was approaching a blockaded zone as part of the legal protocol, the response from one of the ship’s leaders was “Go back to Auschwitz!”
• Bringing relatively well known people onto the upper deck to serve as human shields. Organizations such as ISM and FGM purposefully place participating individuals with the most name recognition in direct confrontation with Israeli soldiers. The organizations are cognizant that these are people who already have an audience to which they can distribute inflammatory information, incitement against the IDF and false claims.
These “direct action” tactics, though far milder than the extreme violence employed by passengers of the Mavi Marmara, are not considered nonviolent according to the accepted legal definition of the term. For instance, in the US, verbal assault (coined as “fighting words” by the US Supreme Court and defined as remarks that “by their very utterance inflict injury”) can be prosecuted.
It is important to take these past actions by last year’s flotilla passengers into consideration. These tactics contradict claims of nonviolence made by flotilla organizers.