20 dead in Israeli attack on aid flotilla

May 31, 2010 by Post Team 

20 dead in Israeli attack on aid flotilla20 dead in Israeli attack on aid flotilla:JERUSALEM: At least 20 people were killed and over 50 others injured on Monday when the Israeli navy intercepted ships carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists toward the Gaza Strip, Geo News reported Monday.

Talking to Geo News, Palestinian DG Health said the injured and the deceased have been shifted to an Israeli hospital.

Meantime, the Hamas government spokesman said he had no information regarding the Pakistani journalist Talat Hussain and his media team on board ship.

According to the spokesman, Israel is a professional killer and the entire world should sever ties with it.

As a diplomatic furore took shape, especially with long-time Muslim ally Turkey whose flag some of the ships were flying, an Israeli minister said: “The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities.”

Israeli Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer gave no details of what Channel 10 said were 14 to 16 deaths. But he told Israel’s Army Radio: “I can also understand … how soldiers are coming down and are set upon with batons and tools.

“The moment someone tries to snatch your weapon, to steal your weapons, that’s where you begin to lose control.”

The bloodshed thwarted Israel’s hopes of avoiding casualties– which could hurt its diplomatic relations, especially with Turkey, where media reported ministers were meeting. Israel’s Western allies have also been critical of its Gaza embargo.

Turkey said it “strongly protested” against the military action, calling the interception of the ships unacceptable and cautioning in a statement issued by its Foreign Ministry that “Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour”.

Israel has said it was absolutely determined to maintain its blockade of the Islamist-controlled Palestinian territory of 1.5 million, citing fears that arms supplies could reach Hamas by sea. It has previously halted such activist ships, although some others have reached Gaza before.

Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Free Gaza Movement which organised the convoy said she was told of 10 dead by an Israeli lawyer for the group but had had no contact with the ships.

“How could the Israeli military attack civilians like this?” she said. “Do they think that because they can attack Palestinians indiscriminately they can attack anyone?

“We have two other boats. This is not going to stop us.”

Israeli media said some marine commandoes were slightly hurt. Captured ships were sailing toward Israel’s southern Mediterranean port of Ashdod, media said.

The convoy set off in international waters off Cyprus on Sunday in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip and warnings that it would be intercepted.

The flotilla was organised, among others, by a Turkish human rights organisation. Turkey had urged Israel to allow it safe passage and said the 10,000 tonnes of aid the convoy was carrying was humanitarian.

Turkey, long Israel’s best Muslim friend and a key ally in a hostile Middle East, was highly critical of Israel’s attack on Gaza 18 months ago, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

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