World Bulletin / News Desk
Israeli troops attacked international aid ships in a bloody operation although they are in international waters.
Israel has opened fire at a Turkish aid ship sailing for the Gaza Strip early Monday.
Israeli soldiers used live ammunition at the aid activists, Turkish aid group IHH activists told Turkish media.
However, "between 14 and 16 people were killed on Monday when Israeli naval commandos boarded aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip, Israel's Channel 10 television said, according to Reuters news agency.
Reports have not said which nationalities the dead have. There are no reports about the other aid ships. However, Turkish ship "Mavi Marmara" carries people who have different nationalities, not only Turks.
But, Israel accepted only at least 10 activists were killed in the attack.
An Israeli military spokesman told Reuters news agency, "our initial findings show that at least 10 convoy participants were killed," the spokesman said.
Turkey had urged Israel to allow it safe passage and says the 10,000 tonnes of aid the convoy is carrying is humanitarian.
Palestinian leader and Turks?
Unconfirmed media reports from Al Aqsa television said up to 20 passengers had been killed, of whom nine were Turkish nationals.
Media reports also said that senior Palestinian leader Raed Salah had been severely injured in the clashes, in which Gaza-based TV station said up to 20 people were killed.
Gaza's Al-Aqsa television showed footage of black-clad Israeli commandos descending from helicopters and clashing with activists, as well as several wounded people lying on the deck of the ship.
Turkish humanitarian aid organization said Monday that there were about 800 passengers on board the aid ship and among them, there is also a six-month-old baby.
Turkey said on Monday it strongly protested against Israel's military attack. Turkish ministers and high-level officials convened at Prime Ministry building in Ankara early on Monday after the attack, Anadolu news agency said.
"(The attack on the convoy) is unacceptable ... Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
A crowded group of protestors gathered in front of the Israeli Consulate General in Istanbul. They protested the attack by chanting slogans.
Tight security measures have been taken around the Israeli consulate building.
Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Israeli military used force against civilians including women, children and the elderly from several countries who wished to take humanitarian aid to Gazan people."
"According to the preliminary reports, two people lost their lives and more than 30 others were injured when the Israeli navy intercepted the six-ship flotilla. We strongly condemn it," it said, according to Turkish Anadolu news agency.
"Israel has once again showed that it completely ignores human life and peaceful initiatives by targeting innocent civilians. We harshly condemn such an inhuman treatment by Israel. This unfortunate event, which took place in the open sea and which is a violation of the international law, may lead to irredeemable consequences in our bilateral relations," the Ministry said.
"Besides the initiatives by the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv, the ambassador of Israel in Ankara has been summoned to the Ministry for an urgent explanation. We will tell the ambassador that Turkey strongly condemns such an unacceptable incident," it said.
"Whatever Israel's reasons are, it is impossible to accept such an action against civilians carrying out peaceful activities. Israel will have to put up with consequences of this violation of the international law," it said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is on his way from Brazil to the United States, informed Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the developments, Anadolu news agency said.
The European Union called for an enquiry into the deaths and urged Israel to allow the free flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip while Syria asked for an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss Israeli aggression.
The flotilla, which includes three cargo ships and three passenger ships, is trying to draw attention to Israel's three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. The boats are carrying items such as electric-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.
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."
Mehmet Kaplan, a Swedish parliamentarian of Turkish descent, is also on board one of the ships in the flotilla.
"High Representative Catherine Ashton expresses her deep regret at the news of loss of life and violence and extends her sympathies to families of the dead and wounded," said a spokesperson for Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief.
"On behalf of the European Union she demands a full enquiry about the circumstances in which this happened ... She calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza."
"Syria's representative to the Arab league has submitted a formal memo to the League requesting it to convene," the official news agency said.
"Massacre at sea"
The Palestinian president described as a massacre the killing of at least 10 activists on Gaza-bound aid ships attacked by Israeli military forces on Monday.
"What Israel has committed on board the Freedom Flotilla was a massacre," Abbas was quoted as saying by the official Wafa news agency.
Jewish Community in Turkey also said that they shared the protests in Turkey.
Anadolu news agency reported, Chief Rabbi's Office released a statement and said, "we have learned with great sorrow about the military intervention against Mavi Marmara ship which was headed towards Gaza. The news reports saying there are casualties further deepened our sorrow. We share the protests in our country incurred by the intervention and share our sorrows with the public."
Israel has been imposing a siege on the Gaza Strip since 2007 and killed up to 1500 Palestinians in an offensive, with a third of them women and children.
Last Mod: 31 Mayıs 2010, 12:09