June 15 2010 — Photo and video material from the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla expose the use of European and American produced war material. The attack on the relief boats was executed by Israeli navy special forces Unit 13 (Shayetet 13). Several big and small navy ships as well as helicopters were used, armed with US and European weapons.
Involved in the attack was a Sa’ar V corvette named Lahav built by US company Northrop-Grumman. The Sa’ar V is fitted with mostly US and Israeli weapon systems, but according to Jane’s Fighting Ships it has a Italian OTO Melara 76mm canon, which is interchangeable with a Swedish Bofors 57 mm canon. The OTO Melara canons were also used for shooting the coast of Gaza during the war in January 2009
Other Weapon systems on the Sa’ar V are surface surface missiles (SSM) of McDonnell Douglas and Barak surface air missiles (SAM) of Israeli Industries. It has US made Honeywell torpedoes. Command system and weapon control from Elbit and ElOp respectively, both Israeli companies.
No names of the other big ships involved are known but there was at least one Sa’ar 4.5 class involved. Ships of this class are armed– amongst other weapons – with 2 Austrian Oerlikon 20MM guns.
Three helicopters were used in the attack. One is clearly visible on board of the corvette. It is not clear from the images which type it is exactly but the Israeli navy uses two types of helicopters and both are European. It must have been either a Dauphins or a Sea Panthers, both by Eurocopter, a subsidiary owned 100% by EADS. They are build by the helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale-Matra (France) and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Germany). On the video one clearly recognises that a US Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was used to drop the Special Forces onto the ship.
Some smaller attack crafts and zodiacs were used as well. Israeli Special Forces have four types. Two types were used against the Freedom Flotilla, being Morena Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) and Zaharon fast boats. The origin of the Zaharon fast boats are not known yet. The Morena is produced by U.S.M.I. Louisiana, US and includes Caterpillar 3126 turbocharged diesel (engines) Furona radar and MK 19 grenade launcer, all US made, except fo5r the radar which is Japanese.
Israeli propaganda made much of the fact that the Gaza Freedom Flotilla hijackers “only” used paintball guns (that is until they started shooting people with live ammunition), as if this was somehow a “safe” or even a nonviolent thing to do. Israeli Special Forces use paintball guns for close range combat training since the mid 1990’s. The two primary paintball guns end users are the Counter Terror School and the Counter Guerrilla Warfare School. IDF Counter Terror School also deploys Siminutions (Simulation Ammunitions), which are special paintball rounds fired via the operator’s standard issues weapons, with just the barrel switched temporarily. In this case it might have been CAR15 (Colt) assault rifles and/or FN High Power handguns (FN, Belgium). Most of the paintball guns in Israel are M16 clones, which are made either by MF2 or by Gun F/X. However, some of the guns, especially the old ones, are in the common civilian paintball guns shape. The Simunitions impact is quite painful and in very short range it can be even lethal.
Research was done by Martin Broek, Ali Abunimah and Carlo Tombola
Editing Wendela de Vries
A reliable sources for checking on weapon systems is the website of the Federation of American Scientists. For this research, many other sources were used as well.