Monday, May 31, 2010

Nine dead as Israel storms aid ship

See update at bottom of this post.

Nine dead as Israel storms aid ship
Jeffrey Heller and Alastair Macdonald
May 31, 2010

Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday and at least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, triggering a diplomatic crisis and an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.

European nations, as well as the United Nations and Turkey, voiced shock and outrage at the bloody end to the international campaigners' bid to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Boarding from dinghies and rappelling from helicopters, naval commandos stopped six ships, 700 people and 10,000 tons of supplies from reaching the Islamist-run Palestinian enclave -- but bloody miscalculation left Israel isolated and condemned.

Once-close Muslim ally Turkey accused it of "terrorism" in international waters. The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session. The European Union, a key aid donor to Palestinians, demanded an independent inquiry and an end to the Gaza embargo...

Turkey calls for punishment of Israel for killings

Jeffrey Heller and Ibon Villelabeitia
Jun 1, 2010

Turkey called on Tuesday for Israel to be punished for storming a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in an attack that left nine dead and Israel increasingly isolated in the face of international outrage.

...Big questions were unanswered: how far Israel could continue to blockade 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip after condemnation from allies, and how it misjudged the situation and dropped marines onto a Turkish ship where they felt they had to open fire to save their lives.

As the first pictures emerged of a handful of Israeli marines being beaten and clubbed by dozens of activists, it was clear there would be anger in Israel over the mishandling.


Activists were held incommunicado by Israel but their accounts began to emerge after some were deported.

"We did not resist at all, we couldn't even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard?" said Mihalis Grigoropoulos, who was aboard a vessel behind the Mavi Marmara, the cruise ship on which most of the violence occurred.

"The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices," Grigoropoulos told NET TV at Athens airport.

Netanyahu was to convene his security cabinet to discuss the fallout from what Israeli newspapers termed a blundered raid.

Government sources said the ministers would consider whether to allow detained Turkish activists to return home on two planes that Turkey dispatched to Israel.

Obama, who has succeeded in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations through U.S.-mediated indirect talks, said he wanted the full facts soon and regretted the loss of life.

After more than 10 hours of closed-door talks that gave rise to conflicting interpretations, the U.N. Security Council called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."

It also condemned "those acts which resulted in the loss of ... civilians and many wounded."...

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