Had additional IDF soldiers not again attempted to board the ship promptly, it would have probably turned around and these soldiers would have been transferred onto another ship and would have disappeared, “behind the lines”.
- (Galid Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was abducted 4 years ago by Palestinians in a cross-border incursion / a violent raid into Israel where 2 other soldiers were killed. He is still held captive by Palestinian militants.)
The three captive soldiers were beaten when they boarded the ship, then, wounded and groggy, were dragged to a room within the ship and held there. A short time later, after the IDF had seized the ship, fearing the missing men had been thrown overboard, dozens of their fellow soldiers began methodically searching the ship for them. Only when the passengers saw that soldiers had successfully seized control of the Marmara, they released the three captives.
The captive soldiers, recovered from their initial disorientation, during their time below deck; once released, hurried to join their unit.
IDF commanders reacted to the report with concern. As similar ships continue to make their way to Gaza, there could be another situation in which a soldier is held captive, a not-unusual tactic, in order to give passengers a bargaining chip.
Reuters has published an eyewitness account that confirms the IDF report. Andre Abu Khalil, a Lebanese cameraman for the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network, was aboard the Mavi Marmara as IDF soldiers boarded. He told Reuters that four soldiers who were among the first aboard were injured and were taken below deck.