PR Ambush? Israel Defends 'Freedom Flotilla' Raid

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his visit to Canada, skipped an upcoming meeting with President Obama, and headed home after a number of pro-Palestinian activists were killed when they tried to breach an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The international community has sharply criticized the Israel Defense Forces' interception of the pro-Palestinian flotilla that was bound for the Gaza Strip. Demonstrations against the action took place throughout the Muslim world and Europe.

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell spoke with Pat Robertson on Tuesday's The 700 Club about the flotilla raid. Click play to watch. Read more also on his latest Jerusalem Dateline here.

Also, CBN News Senior Editor John Waage talked about the role of Hamas and Turkey in Israel's latest diplomatic crisis. Click here for his comments.

Critics have accused Israel of using excessive force when IDF naval commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara.

On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan even described the raid as a "massacre."

"This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse," he said.

"They have once again showed to the world that they know how good they are at killing people," Erdogan said. "Israel in no way can legitimize this murder. It cannot wash its hand of this blood."

Ignoring the Evidence?

However, Netanyahu defended the IDF's actions.

"They were mobbed. They were clubbed. They were beaten, stabbed - there was even a report of gunfire. And our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives, or they would have been killed," Netanyahu said.

A video released by the Israeli army shows what was virtually an ambush of its soldiers.

The Israeli commandos slid down ropes from helicopters, "armed" in most cases with paint ball rifles and ready to conduct crowd control. Instead, the IDF said, they were brutally attacked by protestors. One soldier was thrown onto another deck 30 feet below.

Although the White House stopped short of condemning Israel, President Obama has called for a thorough investigation.

Before and during the flotilla's voyage, some of those on board chanted Islamic slogans, pledged the army of Mohammed would return, and said martyrdom would be even better than breaking through to Gaza and delivering their humanitarian goods.

But some say, for now, the international community isn't allowing the evidence to get in the way of their condemnation of Israel.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.