ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish pro-Palestinian campaigners released photographs Sunday showing terrified, bleeding Israeli soldiers cowering and surrounded by activists on the Turkish aid ship that they had stormed.
Nine activists from Turkey were killed last Monday in the storming of the Mavi Marmara, part of a convoy trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza and deliver some 10,000 metric tons of aid.
The photographs were taken by a member of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid, or IHH, which organized the convoy, said spokesman Salih Bilici.
Israeli authorities confiscated activists’ cameras and erased the memory cards after detaining the passengers and crew, but the IHH was able to recover photos on one camera using special software, Bilici said.
There are no pictures of outright violence but many of the photographs show pools of blood on the floor or streaks smeared across walls.
In one picture, a soldier who appears to be crying in anguish grips the back of his head while someone from behind grasps his arm to direct him down a flight of stairs. His face is bruised and cut, his shirt is ripped open, and he does not appear to have his weapon.
Another soldier lies on the floor with blood on his hand while activists look as if they are removing his bullet-proof vest.
In the following pictures, the soldier is either being carried or dragged down the stairs, then hands are seen on his chest. He may be attempting to fend them off with his own raised hands.
Some of these pictures show a figure in civilian clothes holding a short, black-handled serrated knife. It is not clear whether this could be a military knife taken from one of the commandos.
The Israeli government has said its soldiers opened fire on the activists after being attacked with knives, rods and bottles. The IHH says the passengers were unarmed and defending their ship, which was in international waters.
There are also pictures of equipment that could belong to the soldiers, including a bullet-proof vest whose pockets are filled with what may be ammunition, a gas mask and a backpack containing what looks like communications equipment.
One picture shows two civilians gripping metal rods that look as though they may have been pieces of the ship and standing guard at a door. In another, a person wearing a gas mask holds a glass bottle.
There are several pictures of what appear to be corpses draped in makeshift shrouds of Palestinian flags or the Arab-style keffiyeh headscarf. Other images are of wounded activists with bandaged legs, arms and heads being tended by shipmates.
The Islamic IHH organized the six-vessel convoy and most of the passengers were Turkish, but it also included activists from Belgium, Britain, Germany, Malaysia, Algeria and elsewhere.
Reporting by Berat Berberoglu; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Kevin Liffey