[News] Gaza aid flotilla - At least 10 murdered by Israelis

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Mon May 31 01:06:06 EDT 2010


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UPDATED ON:
Monday, May 31, 2010
07:52 Mecca time, 04:52 GMT
<http://english.aljazeera.net/>News Middle East
Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet

Aid convoy was attacked 65km off the Gaza coast

Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming 
to break the country's siege on Gaza.

Up to 16 people were killed and more than 30 people injured when 
Israeli troops stormed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, the 
Israeli Army Radio said.

The flotilla was attacked when it was 65km off the Gaza coast.

Footage from the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, showed 
armed Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and helicopters flying overhead.

Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, on board the Mavi Marmara, said Israeli 
troops had used live ammunition during the operation.

The Israeli Army Radio said soldiers opened fire "after confronting 
those on board carrying sharp objects".

Free Gaza Movement, the organisers of the flotilla, however, said the 
troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the ships.

They also said the ships were now being towed to the Israeli town of 
Haifa, instead of Ashdod to avoid waiting journalists.

Earlier, the Israeli navy had contacted the captain of the Mavi 
Marmara, asking him to identify himself and say where the ship was headed.

Israeli intervention

Shortly after, two Israeli naval vessels had flanked the flotilla on 
either side, but at a distance.

Organisers of the flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid 
then diverted their ships and slowed down to avoid a confrontation 
during the night.

They also issued all passengers life jackets and asked them to remain 
below deck.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Jerusalem, said the 
Israeli action was surprising.

"All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships 
show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with 
medical supplies on board. So it will surprise many in the 
international community to learn what could have possibly led to this 
type of confrontation," he said.

Protests

Condemnation has been quick to pour in after the Israeli action.

Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate 
in Istanbul soon after the news of the operation broke. The 
protesters shouted "Damn Israel" as police blocked them.

Turkey is also reported to have summoned the Israeli ambassador to 
lodge a protest.

Meanwhile, Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has dubbed the 
Israeli action as "barbaric".

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and 
several European legislators, are with the flotilla, aiming to reach 
Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo.

But Israel has said it will not allow the flotilla to reach the Gaza 
Strip and vowed to stop the six ships from reaching the coastal 
Palestinian territory.

The flotilla had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday and aimed 
to reach Gaza by Monday morning.

Israel said the boats were embarking on "an act of provocation" 
against the Israeli military, rather than providing aid, and that it 
had issued warrants to prohibit their entrance to Gaza.

It asserted that the flotilla would be breaking international law by 
landing in Gaza, a claim the organisers rejected.
  Source: Al Jazeera and agencies





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