IDF press office (partially) retracts Al-Qaeda slander

Max Blumenthal has a great post describing how he and a colleague called out the IDF’s press office on its claim that some of the flotilla participants were Al-Qaeda members.
Under questioning from Max and Israeli freelancer Lia Tarachansky, the IDF’s press office quietly changed the title of a piece on its website from “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries” to “”Attackers of the IDF soldiers found without identification papers”.
Max writes that after seeing the original claim on the IDF website:

    Tarachansky and I called the IDF press office to ask for more conclusive evidence. Tarachansky reached the IDF’s Israel desk, interviewing a spokesperson in Hebrew; I spoke with the North America desk, using English. We both received the same reply from Army spokespeople: “We don’t have any evidence. The press release was based on information from the [Israeli] National Security Council.” (The Israeli National Security Council is Netanyahu’s kitchen cabinet of advisors).
    Today, the Israeli Army’s press office changed the headline of its press release… The more Israel’s claims about the flotilla’s terrorist links are challenged, the more they fall apart.

The title of the IDF webpage in question— that is, the title that appears at the very top of your browser window– still contains the “Al-Qaeda” slander, however. It, too, needs to be changed.
The page also has photos of bullet-proof vests and night-vision goggles that, the site alleges, were found on the Mavi Marmara, “suggesting passengers were prepared for a gunfight.” I’m not sure they suggest that. They could have been equipment the flotilla people were taking in for members of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza, who have frequently come under attack by Israeli forces while in the course of performing their duties (a clear infraction of the laws of war.) The vests do, after all, have standard red crescent badges sewn prominently on them.
There is also, however, some doubt over the authenticity and dating of those photos.
Bottom line: Don’t take anything the IDF or the Israeli government says about what happened Monday at face value. They had evidently had a long time to prepare what is called “information operations” (i.e. disinformation operations) around the raid. In another field of information ops, it seems fairly obvious that it was either the Israeli government or some of their fan-base around the world that launched a successful DOS attack against the web-site of the Turkish humanitarian organization IHH, early Monday.
(The IHH: That group that the hasbaristas claim is “connected to international terror”– but that has never been formally linked to any terrorist organization by any other government.)

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