Outrage Over Deadly Israeli Raid on Gaza Aid Flotilla, Leaving 10 Dead, 30 Wounded
May 31, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-The Jewish State of Israel is now the subject of across-the-board international condemnation for a deadly early morning raid on aid ships bound for Gaza. An international humanitarian aid flotilla carrying relief supplies to the choked-off Palestinian territory, with the stated aim of breaking Israel’s blockade, was raided by Israeli commandos early this morning in international waters. What happened next is in dispute. But what is known, is that Israeli commandos opened fire on civilians aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, operated by the Muslim group Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, leaving at least 10 dead and 30 wounded.
The Israeli government says the IHH activists violently attacked the commandos with knives, axes, clubs and live fire, as the commandos dropped from helicopters to the ship. But the Free Gaza Movement, a co-sponsor of the aid flotilla, claims Israeli Defense Forces “began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck,” shooting “into the crowd of civilians asleep.”
The international repercussions against Israel are now in full force. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Canada during the raid, has canceled his planned meeting with President Obama on Tuesday and is now returning to Israel.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for an investigation. And Turkey is demanding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. “I am shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on boats carrying supplies for Gaza. I condemn this violence,” Ban said. Turkey went even further with its statements of condemnation, calling the raid by Israeli Defense Forces, an attack on humanity. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, said “This operation will leave a bloody stain on the history of humanity.”
Western nations are using less hyperbole, but are demanding an investigation. The United States issued a statement, expressing “regret” for the deaths of civilians. White House spokesman Bill Burton, said the United States “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.” Spain and France condemned the shooting with live ammunition against flotilla civilians, as “disproportionate.”
Israeli Major Avital Leibovitz told reporters at a press conference held after the incident, “It was a planned lynch against IDF soldiers. They did not plan to enter a violent clash with the passengers, and unfortunately the passengers chose violence and used knives, spikes and even opened fire at the soldiers and snatched weapons.” “This is not a human rights organization. I know no human rights organization which uses such means,” added Leibovitz.
Video of the raid is being shown by both the Free Gaza Movement and the Israel Defense Forces to prove their version of events. The video posted on YNet News shows the ship’s passengers waiting on deck armed, with what appears to be metal bars, with Israeli commandos opening fire. Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon called the attack by civilian crew members an act of “provocation.” “On the deck we found weapons which were used against the forces. The organizers’ intent was violent and the results were unfortunate,” said Ayalon.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is calling for three days of mourning to honor the dead civilian activists.
Since Sunday, a large group of angry demonstrators began appearing outside the Israeli embassy in Istanbul, protesting the Israeli raid.
The Free Gaza Movement released a statement on Twitter this morning, promising to send another relief ship to Gaza: “We will not stop. We will go again. Please, donate for the next trip. We have the Rachel Corrie and another boat. We WILL go until Gaza is free.”
Photo Credit: Freegazaorg’s Photostream