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Israel kills activists as commandos storm flotilla bound for Gaza

Posted by yourpakistan on May 31, 2010


Turkey calls incident unacceptable as commandos shoot 10 members of aid convoy dead in international waters

Israel today stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza, killing 10 pro-Palestinian activists and injuring dozens.The ships, several of them Turkish, were carrying construction materials, medical equipment and other aid to highlight the three-year-old Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory. The Israel Defence Forces confirmed that at least 10 protesters were dead and four naval officers wounded, one seriously. Israeli Arab groups say a prominent activist is among the wounded.

The two sides offered conflicting versions of events, with a reporter on one of the boats saying the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it. However, the Israelis said they only opened fire after being attacked by activists with sticks, knives and live fire. An IDF statment said the operation turned deadly after one of the activists grabbed a weapon from one of the commandos, which was then discharged.According to tweets from activists on board the ships, Israeli forces dropped from helicopters on to the deck of the Turkish passenger ship, the Marvi Mamara, at around 4.30am, and immediately opened fire. The ship was surrounded by navy vessels.

Three vessels, under the control of the Israeli navy, were this morning heading for the Israeli port of Ashdod, 23 miles north of Gaza City, where a detention centre has been set up to process and deport the activists.The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, described the attack as a massacre. “What Israel has committed on board the freedom flotilla was a massacre,” Abbas was quoted as saying by the official Wafa news agency.

The incident is likely to worsen already difficult relations between Israel and Turkey, with Turkish media reporting demonstrations in support of the activists in Ankara and Istanbul.The Turkish government “strongly protested” against the military action in international waters, calling the interception unacceptable.

“Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour, “a Turkish foreign ministry statement said. The European Union called for an inquiry into the incident and urged Israel to allow the free flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

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