Nine activists killed in flotilla raid, ten Israeli soldiers injured
Nine dead, dozens injured, on the pro-Palestinian flotilla lead boat, the Turkish Marmora with 600 activists aboard, intercepted by Israeli naval commandos 80 miles out at sea, Monday, May 31. Israel reports the clash was triggered by passengers shooting with a weapon snatched from a soldier and wielding knives and iron bars. Ten troops were injured, two critically. All casualties have been ferried by helicopter to Israel hospitals. Nationwide alert for disturbances declared in Israel and around its borders.
Turkey, which sponsored the flotilla to break Israel's blockade of Gaza and deliver aid to the Hamas-ruled territory, now threatens incalculable consequences for Israel's attack. The Turkish chief of staff was recalled urgently to Ankara from his visit to Egypt.
The troops dropped by helicopters were said to have used gas canisters and gunfire against the passengers aboard the Turkish lead-vessel of the six-boat convoy. Four Israeli F-16 warplanes flew west over the Mediterranean as the six boats remaining of the nine-ship convoy were escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The wounded are being treated in hospital. Other passengers will be deported through Ben Gurion international airport after refusing to disembark and being removed by force.
Israeli will deliver its aid cargo to Gaza overland after inspecting its contents.
The Israeli military spokesman commented on the Arab and Turkish accounts only after six hours. Police have shut down Temple Mount, closed roads leading to Israeli Arab region and placed jails holding terrorists under tight security. In Gaza, prime minister Ismail Haniya calls for general strike of West Bank Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, UN condemnation, Arab League session.
The Israeli ambassador was summoned to the Turkish foreign minister as protesters mass outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul.