As more information comes in, it is clear that there were some armed activists on the main ship that was raided by Israeli commandos today. There are reports that not only were the soldiers attacked with clubs, sticks and knives, they were also fired at. A few soldiers are in the hospital with gunshot wounds, and others with broken bones. One soldier was tossed off a deck and somehow survived.
Some people on the "Free Gaza" flotilla were true, albeit naive, peace activists. Some, on the other hand, were "provocation activists" and terrorists. I do believe that most of the peace activists didn't know that the provocation activists were armed, and I feel sorry for the real peaceniks who were killed or injured. I don't feel sorry for anyone who shot at the soldiers. If they were truly peaceful, they should have used passive resistance, as they had announed they would do.
There were reports that all armed activists were Arabs. It wouldn't surprise me if they were all Hamas militants who joined the flotilla for a chance to shoot Israeli soldiers, rather than to raise awareness or bring aid to Gaza.
Earlier today, I talked to an Arab Israeli friend and was surprised by how shocked he was by today's incident. Jewish Israelis are dismayed and worried about the implications of the high death toll, but his feelings seemed to go beyond that. He saw this as the end of any glimmer of hope for peace, which seems to me like quite an overreaction. Yes, the death toll is horrible, but it is just one incident, and most of the dead (and perhaps none - we don't know yet) aren't even Palestinians. I think that part of his reaction stemmed from reports that are now known to be false, that Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, the head of the Northern faction of the Islamic Movement was either critically injured or dead. Turns out Salah, one of the most radical leaders of the Arab citizens of Israel (he has called for an Intifadah within Israel to protect Al-Aqsa), is alive and well and ready for more anti-Israel provocations. I hope the fact he's still around will make Arabs in Israel feel a little less anxious.