An Israeli Soldier Shares His Story of the Gaza Flotilla

Israel Navy Ship

Shlomi leapt from surfing the waves of the Mediterranean to living aboard a ship of the Israel Navy.

First Sergeant Shlomi was aboard the Israel Navy Ship (INS) Lahav as a senior electrician when it assisted in the interception of the 2010 Gaza flotilla.

My name is Shlomi. My family and I live in central Israel. These days I am a senior electrician on the INS Lahav.

My love of surfing brought me [to the Israel Navy]. Five years later, I still love it. We have a unique tradition—the language of the Israel Navy is only spoken and understood here.

I love serving in the Israel Navy and living aboard one of its ships. There is a sense of brotherhood on the ship—all of us sit together for weekly Friday night dinners. Also, you know that you are doing something important—something for the security of the state of Israel. And you see things that other soldiers in the Israeli army never get to see.

Shlomi’s personal encounter with the 2010 Gaza flotilla:

Last May, I was stationed in the Lahav’s machinery control room. The room has several black-and-white monitoring screens, allowing us to see what is happening outside of the ship. I had heard the conversation over the radio transmission between an Israeli officer and the Mavi Marmara crew. The officer explained to the Mavi Marmara captain that it was illegal to enter Gaza’s maritime territory; that is when the crew started to swear into the radio transmission, saying “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz.” The officer made a second attempt, requesting them to dock in Israel’s Ashdod port. After they objected to our request and we saw that they were getting too close to Gaza’s maritime territory, it was decided that we must take over the ship.

From there, in the early hours of May 31st, I saw Mavi Marmara passengers throw one of our naval commandos overboard. They hung him in the air by his feet. After they let go of him, he fell onto the bottom deck. I was in complete shock.

As the naval commandos lowered themselves onto the ship, many of the passengers joined the mob in attacking the [Israeli] soldiers with knives and metal rods; hosing them with water; and throwing empty food containers and plastic chairs at them. It was like watching a movie—but a horrible one. Everyone was silent, as we watched the mob of passengers attack our soldiers.

Initially we received contrary information from [Israeli] intelligence—they said that the passengers were peace activists—no one thought that they would carry out such a violent act.

His thoughts on the 2011 Gaza flotilla:  

The state of Israel has determined that it is illegal to enter Gaza’s maritime territory, and as part of the IDF, we must carry out this order. I really hope it will be a smooth operation because if we are met with violence, we will be forced to respond.

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