Turkey welcomes Gaza aid survivors from Israeli attack - VIDEO - PHOTO

Hundreds of Gaza aid survivors from a Turkish-led aid flotilla after Israeli attack have been given a hero's welcome.

Turkey welcomes Gaza aid survivors from Israeli attack - VIDEO - PHOTO

Hundreds of Gaza aid survivors from a Turkish-led aid flotilla after Israeli attack landed at Istanbul early on Thursday, given a hero's welcome by thousands of cheering supporters waiting at the airport.

The planes, carrying 466 activists as well as bodies of 9 people that were killed in the attack, landed at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport at short intervals.


Three Turkish planes that bore the activists from Tel Aviv to Turkey also carried the simple wooden coffins of the nine killed when Israeli commandos stormed the ships trying to take aid to Gaza.

"We've been scared, frightened, kidnapped and attacked with battleships while we were taking aid to needy people in Gaza," said Mustafa Ahmet, a British citizen of Turkish origin.


As activists descended from the planes at Istanbul's Ataturk airport they lifted their arms in defiance, but afterwards some were overcome with emotion and wept.

The majority of the 466 people aboard the planes were Turkish with some Irish, British, Norwegian, Dutch and Spanish citizens among them.


Turkish State Minister & Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc and a number of officials welcomed the THY planes which also brought back four Justice and Development (AK) Party deputies who went to Israel to help the volunteers.

Speaking to reporters while waiting for the arrival of the planes at the airport, Arinc said, "For now, diplomacy has succeeded, however, Israel will be asked within the framework of laws to pay for the murders it has committed".


Arinc said that the Turkish justice ministry had also launched the necessary initiatives in order to follow the issue within the scope of criminal and international laws.

Addressing the crowd waiting at the airport for the activists as well, Arinc said, "We have all condemned this unfair, cruel and barbaric attack which was totally an act of piracy".


Arinc noted that the Turkish government had expressed its condemnation over the incident and informed the world on such injustice just like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had done in his speech at AK Party's latest group meeting.

Pointing to the declaration signed by all the political parties in the Turkish parliament which condemned the Israeli attack, the Turkish deputy premier also said necessary actions would be taken in line with such declaration.

"Israeli soldiers dead bodies into sea"

Several activists said, the death toll was higher than nine, and accused the Israeli army of hiding bodies and destroying forensic evidence.


"The soldiers shot a doctor who surrendered and they threw dead bodies into the sea. We still don't know what happened to them," said Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the IHH, the Turkish charity which organised the convoy.

He said Israeli commandos had forced activists to kneel with their hands behind their backs after they stormed the flotilla, and helicopters circling overhead poured cold sea water onto them.


Kevin Ovenden of Britain said a man who had pointed a camera at the soldiers was shot directly through the forehead with live ammunition, with the exit wound blowing away the back of his skull.

Many of those waiting at Istanbul's Ataturk airport carried Palestinian flags and bore slogans such as "murderer Israel", while one group of protesters tore up an Israeli flag. Hours earlier thousands had demonstrated in a central Istanbul square.


On Monday, an Israeli raid on the convoy of ships with more than 600 people on board killed 9 people and injured nearly 30 others.

The Turkish vessel was the largest of the six vessels in the aid convoy and it was here that the deadly attacks took place.

"Best treatment in Turkey"

Earlier Wednesday, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag was on hand at a military base near Ankara to receive two seriously wounded activists, one Turkish and one an Irish national, as they flew in from Israel.

Early Thursday a Greek military plane repatriated 31 Greeks, three French citizens and an American, the Greek foreign ministry said.

Greek alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas welcomed the activists at the military airfield of Elefsina where the C-130 touched down after 3:00 am (0000 GMT).

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters he had asked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene during their meeting in Washington Tuesday.


"No one has the right to prosecute people kidnapped in international waters," he said.

"Injured citizens who were brought to Turkey for treatment are in high spirits. They will receive the best treatment and they will get better. I hope they would be with their families soon," Davutoglu told reporters while visiting two injured people who were brought to Ankara Ataturk Training and Research Hospital for treatment.

"Turkish government demanded return of all our citizens in 24 hours. All of our citizens left Israel before this period ended and returned to Turkey," Davutoglu said and thanked the nation and all the institutions for their solidarity.

Turkey has already recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and scrapped plans for joint military exercises.






Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Haziran 2010, 13:21