In pictures: At sea with Israel's elite commandos
A Naval Commando 13 boat speeds through the waters off the coast of Israel on a training exercise. Commandos from the elite Israeli force boarded the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the aid flotilla to Gaza in May, resulting in nine deaths.
Panorama gained unique access to the training of this top secret Israeli unit who patrol the waters off the coast of Israel enforcing the naval blockade of Gaza.
Panorama reporter Jane Corbin visited an Israeli naval station which monitors for boats trying to break the blockade. Israel says the naval blockade is needed to stop weapons entering Gaza. Palestinians say it causes suffering and harms economic life.
A member of Naval Commando 13 who took part in the raid on the Mavi Marmara on 31 May. The aid flotilla was organised by the Free Gaza Movement with the Mavi Marmara sailing from Istanbul in Turkey.
Commando Sergeant Y had his arm fractured by an iron bar on board the Mavi Marmara, he claims by pro-Palestinian activists. “They tried to kill each and every one of us. And we were just defending our lives,” he said.
The main role of the highly trained commandos of Naval Commando 13 is to intercept Israel’s enemies at sea. The six ships of the flotilla were boarded in international waters about 90 miles from the Israeli coast.
Training sessions often include simulation of commandos coming under attack from hostile forces. Nine pro-Palestinian activists died in the clash in May.
Israel claims these weapons came from the Mavi Marmara and are evidence that justifies the response to what it says was a premeditated attack. The events surrounding the violence are bitterly disputed.
The Mavi Marmara was impounded at an Israeli port for two months before returning to Turkey. The sea blockade is still being enforced by the Israelis. Another aid flotilla to Gaza from Europe is planned for the autumn.