source Al Jazeera and Agencies
May 31, 2010
Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to
break the country's siege on Gaza.
At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted
the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, Israeli
The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.
Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, confirmed that the attack
took place in international waters, saying:
"This happened in waters outside
of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves."
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. (Live blogging:
Aftermath of Israel's attack on Gaza flotilla.)
The Israeli military said four soldiers had been wounded and claimed troops
opened fire after,
"demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel
with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs".
Free Gaza Movement, the organizers of the flotilla, however, said the troops
opened fire as soon as they stormed the convoy.
Our correspondent said that a white surrender flag was raised from the ship
and there was no live fire coming from the passengers.
Before losing communication with our correspondent, a voice in Hebrew was
clearly heard saying:
"Everyone shut up".
Earlier, the Israeli navy had contacted the captain of the Mavi Marmara,
asking him to identify himself and say where the ship was headed.
Shortly after, two Israeli naval vessels had flanked the flotilla on either
side, but at a distance. Organizers of the flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid then
diverted their ships and slowed down to avoid a confrontation during the
They also issued all passengers life jackets and asked them to remain below
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
Meanwhile, Israeli police have been put on a heightened state of alert
across the country to prevent any civil disturbances.
Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading member of the Islamic Movement who was on board
the ship, was reported to have been seriously injured. He was being treated
in Israel's Tal Hasharon hospital.
In Um Al Faham, the stronghold of the Islamic movement in Israel and the
birth place of Salah, preparations for mass demonstrations were under way.
Condemnation has been quick to pour in after the Israeli action.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, officially declared a three-day
state of mourning over Monday's deaths.
Turkey, Spain, Greece, Denmark and Sweden have all summoned the Israeli
ambassador's in their respective countries to protest against the deadly
Worldwide outrage has followed
the deadly Israeli attack of Gaza aid convoy
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.
"(The interception on the convoy) is unacceptable... Israel will have to
endure the consequences of this behavior," the Turkish foreign ministry
said in a statement.
Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has also dubbed the Israeli action
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and
several European legislators, were with the flotilla, aiming to reach Gaza
in defiance of an Israeli embargo.
The convoy came from the UK, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey,
and was comprised of about 700 people from 50 nationalities.
But Israel had said it would not allow the flotilla to reach the Gaza Strip
and vowed to stop the six ships from reaching the coastal Palestinian
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 organizers rejected.
Israeli troops storm Gaza flotilla
May 31, 2010
Israeli forces have attacked aid ships attempting to break the blockade of
Commandos lowered themselves
from helicopters and onto the Mavi Marmara,
the lead ship in a flotilla of six
vessels which are carrying humanitarian aid for the Palestinian territory.
Israeli Army Radio said up to 16 people may have been killed in the
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal on board the Mavi Marmara sent this report
before communications were cut.
Above report "Coincidence" with below
Obama Gives Israel All-Out Support
May 31, 2010
United Nations ratified a resolution
calling for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, the US president gives
Israel "concrete guarantees" to prevent the decision from harming Israeli
Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post quoted senior political sources in al-Quds
(Jerusalem) as saying that President Barack Obama's assurances to Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came with the promise of a significant
upgrade to Israel's military capabilities.
President Barack Obama (R)
has promised Benjamin Netanyahu
that he would prevent
any UN resolution against a nuclear-armed Israel.
President Obama gave Prime Minister
"concrete guarantees that the US will
strengthen Israel's strategic capabilities," the report said.
The pledge comes two days after all 189
signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty reached an agreement for the
establishment of a Middle East without nuclear weapons.
The long-sought statement called on all Middle East nations to attend a 2012
conference on ridding the region of weapons of mass destruction.
The Friday's agreement also stressed,
"the importance of Israel's accession to the
treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under
comprehensive IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards."
On Saturday, Netanyahu condemned the
international deal, saying that Israel would not participate in the 2012
Late on Sunday, President Obama rushed to align itself with Tel Aviv,
condemning the decision and promising to prevent any UN resolution in this
regard from threatening Israeli interests.
This is while Israel is widely believed to be the sixth-largest nuclear
power in the world and the sole possessor of an atomic arsenal in the
For 40 years, with the help of the United States, Israel has successfully
prevented its undeclared arsenal of approximately 200 atomic warheads from