The IDF should be commended for defending themselves in no uncertain terms. Israel must not be a paper tiger.
Israel braces for disturbances after up to 20 dead reported on pro-Palestinian flotilla
DEBKAfile Special Report May 31, 2010, 9:48 AM (GMT+02:00)
Foreign sources report up to 20 dead on the pro-Palestinian aid flotilla intercepted by Israeli naval commandos at sea report at least two passengers killed, Turkish sources say 10, up to 50 injured in clashes on board early Monday, May 31 80 miles at sea. Nationwide alert for disturbances declared in Israel.
Turkey threatens Israel would suffer incalculable consequences, raising Ankara’s hostility to Israel to a new level. The convoy was sponsored by Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan with two objectives: to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and deliver aid to its inhabitants.
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 after a soldier was knifed, leading to pandemonium aboard. Three injured Israeli soldiers have been transferred to hospital. The six boats remaining in the convoy are being escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod. One source says the Israeli Arab Muslim extremist Raed Salah was among the casualties. The wounded will be treated in hospital. Other passengers will be deported through Ben Gurion international airport.
Israeli will deliver its aid cargo to Gaza overland after inspecting its contents.
Hours after the incident, the Israeli military spokesman had still not commented on the Arab and Turkish accounts. It was not clear for instance why Israel failed to jam the images broadcast from the boats.
Police have shut down Temple Mount, closed roads leading to Israeli Arab region and placed jails holding terrorists under tight security.
At least 14 people were killed and 50 were injured early Monday as the Israeli Navy took over the ships taking part in the aid sail to Gaza, Arab and Turkish media reported.
An IDF soldier was moderately injured during the raid after being stabbed in the stomach. Three injured people were evacuated by helicopter to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
According to an IDF source, “The sail’s participants were not innocent and used violence against the soldiers. They were waiting for the forces’ arrival.”
The NTV network has been broadcasting images of injured passengers on board one of the ships since the morning hours. Some were evacuated on boats and helicopters.
The al-Jazeera network reported that hundreds of soldiers took over the vessels taking part in the sail simultaneously.
According to a reporter on one of the ships, the Israel Defense Forces raided all vessels from the sea and air at the same time and informed all of the passengers that they were under arrest.
The Israeli vessels, the report said, attacked the flotilla in international waters with aerial reinforcement, using gas. A Qatari television channel broadcast live the dramatic images from the ships, with Hamas spokespeople giving interviews and vowing to punish Israel for “the new crime”.
The images showed Commando soldiers with their faces covered. A fighter in uniform, wearing a gas mask, tried to block the camera with his hand, while more and more troops raided the ship after sliding down from a helicopter using a rope.
The NTV network showed Commando fighters hanging down from ropes onto the ships’ decks. One of the images showed a military doctor treating one of the injured.
At around 4 am, the live broadcast from one of the six ships was disconnected. The broadcast was resumed an hour later and the ship began calling out for help and announced to the Navy that there were injured people aboard.
Passengers: Don’t attack us
One of the passengers on the ship called out to the Navy vessels, “Don’t attack us. We are unarmed civilians. There are injured people onboard.”
The calls were first made in English, and were later joined by Knesset Member Hanin Zuabi (Balad), who called out to the ships in Hebrew.
Senior Hamas member Ismail Raduan responded to the IDF takeover on the vessels sailing to Gaza, saying that “this is state-sponsored organized terror. We are calling on the international community to do something.
“These are crimes against humanity and against our Palestinian people. We call on all members the Arab and Muslim people to launch protests of rage of solidarity.”
Three Israeli naval craft left a Haifa naval base just after 9 pm on Sunday and approached the “Freedom Flotilla” after dark, according to the Twitter page of Free Gaza, one organization participating in the flotilla.
Two hours later, Israel Radio broadcast a recording of one of the missile boats warning the flotilla, which is carrying humanitarian aid and pro-Palestinian activists, not to approach Gaza.
“If you ignore this order and enter the blockaded area, the Israeli navy will be forced to take all the necessary measures in order to enforce this blockade,” the radio message continued.
The six-ship convoy carrying aid for Palestinians set sail for Gaza Sunday afternoon in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the impoverished territory and warnings that it would be intercepted. The ships, led by a Turkish vessel with 600 people on board, departed from international waters off Cyprus.
Ali Waked, Shmulik Grossman and Ahiya Raved contributed to this report
Over 60 pro-Palestinian campaigners wounded after aid convoy sailing for Gaza Strip ignored Israel’s order to turn back, Turkish news reports. IDF confirms two commandos also wounded.
One of the vessels waits to leave Famagusta, northern Cyprus, on 29 May 2010 The flotilla sailed from Cyprus on Sunday
The Israeli navy has stormed at least one of a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip, amid reports of casualties on board.
Israeli TV says that up to 14 people have been killed. Israel has declined to comment.
The exact location of the interception is unclear. Israel had warned the ships not to enter its territorial waters.
The ships are carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip in an effort to break an Israeli blockade.
Turkish TV pictures taken on board the Turkish ship leading the flotilla show Israeli soldiers fighting to control passengers.
The footage showed a number of people, apparently injured, lying on the ground. The sound of gunshots could be heard. It is not clear whether the fighting is ongoing.
Al-Jazeera TV reported from the same ship that Israeli navy forces had fired and boarded the vessel, wounding the captain.
The Al-Jazeera broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, “Everybody shut up!”.
The six-ship flotilla left international waters off the coast of Cyprus on Sunday and was expected to arrive in Gaza later on Monday.
Israel has said it would stop the boats, calling the campaign a “provocation intended to delegitimise Israel”.
An economic blockade was imposed by Israel after the Islamist movement Hamas took power in Gaza.
Israel says it allows about 15,000 tones of humanitarian aid into Gaza every week.
But the United Nations says this is less than a quarter of what is needed.
Hamas, a militant palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past decade.