May 31st, 2010
12:32 PM ET

Latest developments: Israeli raid on flotilla

[Updated at 10:57 p.m.] Here are the latest developments involving the pre-dawn raid by Israeli military on a flotilla of six ships carrying aid for the Palestinian territory of Gaza:

LATEST DETAILS

- Times Square protest draws 500 outside Israeli consulate

- One American among wounded, State Department official says

- Venezuelan network TeleSur calls on Israel to release journalist seized in raid

- As many as nine Americans may have been aboard the Gaza relief flotilla and were being held by Israeli authorities, a State Department
official said.

- The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting Monday called by Turkey in response to the incident.

- On Monday, Israel insisted its soldiers were defending themselves when they opened fire. "They deliberately attacked soldiers," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the activists.

- In Iraq, hundreds of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Baghdad in protest of the Israeli action.

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Israeli soldiers were attacked as they attempted to stop a convoy headed to Gaza to deliver aid. The soldiers were beaten and stabbed, and there was also a report of gunfire, Netanyahu said, appearing in Ottawa, Canada, with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Four Israeli soldiers were injured, he said.

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cut short his visit to Canada, and will return to Israel after holding a working meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to "update him on the recent events," said an e-mailed statement from a spokesman. Netanyahu spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier Monday, the statement said.

- The Israeli troops "were not expecting to be attacked," said Jonathan Peled, minister-counselor at the Israeli embassy in Washington. He said the soldiers came aboard carrying paintball pistols, but were attacked with knives and metal bars. One naval commando was stabbed, prompting the soldiers to open up with live fire, killing the nine, he said.

- The Palestinian Cabinet, in its weekly meeting, "strongly condemned the Israeli crime against international supporters on board of the Freedom Flotilla, which reveals, once again, Israeli disregard to the lives of innocent civilians and its disrespect to international law, norms and resolutions," the Palestinian Authority said in a statement.

THE RAID

- Israeli soldiers stormed a flotilla of six ships carrying aid for the Palestinian territory of Gaza in a pre-dawn raid on Monday, killing at least nine people, the country's military said.

- Israel Defense Forces says the number of people killed is nine, not 10 as previously reported.

- Seven Israeli soldiers were wounded in the raid, Israel Defense Forces said.

- Fifteen people captured on board the flotilla have been transferred to an Israeli prison in Beer Sheva, a spokesman for the Israeli Prison authority said Monday.

- Two Israeli naval commandos, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Israeli soldiers boarded the ships armed with paint guns along with loaded pistols which they were only supposed to use in an emergency. Only when the soldiers felt they were mobbed and their lives were in danger did they pull our handguns and begin shooting live ammunition, they said.

- All six boats in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla were boarded by Israeli naval commandos, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Only one, the Mavi Mamara, offered resistance; the other five surrendered peacefully, the military said.

- An Israeli senior military official speaking on condition of anonymity said 15 soldiers aboard several commando boats were involved in the incident. An Israeli commando said upon descending into a boat with ropes, he was immediately attacked by a group of people. "They beat us up with metal sticks and knives," he said. "There was live fire at some point against us ... They were shooting at us from below deck." The account could not be independently verified by CNN.

- A senior Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity in an independent account cleared by military censors, said Israeli troops were planning to deal with peace activists on a Gaza-bound flotilla, "not to fight." The official displayed a box from the boat containing switch blade knives, slingshots, metal balls and metal bats. "This was not spontaneous," he said. "This was planned."

- The military official said most of the nine deaths were Turks, he said. Twenty people were wounded.

- "We didn't come here for war," he said. "... They came to fight us. This was a voyage of terror."

- The Free Gaza Movement, one of the groups sponsoring the flotilla, said in a Twitter post that Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of one of the ships and "immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians." Video aired on CNN sister network CNN Turk showing soldiers rappelling onto the deck of a ship from a helicopter above.

- The boarding of the ships took place more than 70 nautical miles outside Israeli territorial waters, according to the Turkish-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation or IHH - one of the organizers of the flotilla.

- The Israeli troops "were not expecting to be attacked," said Jonathan Peled, minister-counselor at the Israeli embassy in Washington. He said the soldiers came aboard carrying paintball pistols, but were attacked with knives and metal bars. One naval commando was stabbed, prompting the soldiers to open up with live fire, killing the nine, he said.

- Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said of the organizers of the flotilla, "They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror. On board the ship, we found weapons that were prepared in advance and used against our forces. The organizers' intent was violent, their method was violent and unfortunately, the results were violent."

- Five soldiers were among the wounded, with two suffering serious injuries.

- The Israeli military said the soldiers were attacked with knives and gunfire and that their lives were in danger. "We did not attack any boat, we merely fulfilled the Israeli government's decision to prevent anyone from going into the Gaza strip without coordinating with Israel," a military statement said.

- IDF spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibowitz said light weapons and handguns were confiscated from the flotilla. "We basically encountered a lynch," she said. "We had to control this violence."

- Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev accused the leaders of the flotilla of looking for a fight. "They wanted to make a political statement. They wanted violence," according to Regev, who said Israel wanted a peaceful interception of the ships trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. "They are directly responsible for the violence and the deaths that occurred."

- The ships of the flotilla were being taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod, the military said.

- On Monday, Israel insisted its soldiers were defending themselves when they opened fire. "They deliberately attacked soldiers," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the activists.

THE REACTION

- The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting Monday called by Turkey in response to the incident.

- In Iraq, hundreds of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Baghdad in protest of the Israeli action.

- "We will not stop. We will go again," Free Gaza, one of the groups organizing the flotilla, said on its website. "Please, donate for the next trip ... we will go until Gaza is free."

- A protest in Paris over the incident attracted an estimated 1,000 people on the Champs-Elysees, according to CNN personnel at the scene. CNN producer Nikki Cook saw police fire tear gas at protesters, who smashed a window and threw bottles. Police riot trucks were lining up to corral the crowd, Cook said.

- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had spoken with Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express her "deep concerns." Merkel said she advised both officials that everything possible should be done to avoid escalation.

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Israeli soldiers were attacked as they attempted to stop a convoy headed to Gaza to deliver aid. The soldiers were beaten and stabbed, and there was also a report of gunfire, Netanyahu said, appearing in Ottawa, Canada, with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

- Netanyahu said he was cutting short his Canadian trip and would return to Israel.

- President Barack Obama spoke on the phone with Netanyahu Monday morning, according to a statement from the White House press office. He "said he understood the prime minister's decision to return immediately to Israel to deal with today's events ... (and) agreed to reschedule their meeting at the first opportunity."

- Obama "expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded," the statement noted. He "also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible."

- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has spoken with Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, and with German Foreign Minister Guide Westerwelle on Monday, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. Lieberman "told them that the passengers on the ships are not freedom fighters, but terrorist supporters who fired at IDF soldiers as soon as the latter boarded the ships."

- The Palestinian Cabinet, in its weekly meeting, "strongly condemned the Israeli crime against international supporters on board of the Freedom Flotilla, which reveals, once again, Israeli disregard to the lives of innocent civilians and its disrespect to international law, norms and resolutions," the Palestinian Authority said in a statement.

- Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak condemned Israel's interception Monday of humanitarian aid ships that were bound for Gaza, calling Israel's use of force "excessive and unjustified."

- Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, in a statement, "strongly condemned" what he called an "assault" by the Israeli military on the flotilla.

- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday he was "shocked by reports of killing of people in boats carrying supplies to Gaza. I condemn the violence and Israel must explain." Ban spoke at a news conference shortly after the official opening of the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Uganda.

- Westerwelle said he was "very concerned" about the incident. Westerwelle said in a statement, "we want a thorough and transparent investigation. It is clear that there must be some balance in international law. It is not acceptable to distort this balance."

- Six Germans, including two members of parliament, were on board the flotilla, Westerwelle said. Their conditions were unknown. Two German embassy officials were en route to the Israeli port of Ashdod, he said.

- White House spokesman Bill Burton said Monday regarding the incident with the Gaza-bound flotilla, "The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

- Three members of Germany's Die Linke party were participating on board the boat where 10 people were killed, the party said Monday. So far, efforts to reach Bundestag members Annette Groth and Inge Hoeger, along with former member Norman Paech, have been unsuccessful, the party said.

- Amnesty International called for Israel to launch an immediate credible and independent investigation into the killing by its armed forces of at least 10 activists on boats protesting the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. "Israeli forces appear clearly to have used excessive force," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement.

- France, Greece, Sweden and Ireland are among nations summoning their Israeli ambassadors. Other nations, including Russia, Spain, France and Indonesia, condemned the violence.

- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Mideast envoy for the so-called Quartet, a group of nations working toward peace in the region, said in a statement Monday: "I express deep regret and shock at the tragic loss of life. There obviously has to be a full investigation into what has happened. Once again I repeat my view that we need a different and better way of helping the people of Gaza and avoiding the hardship and tragedy that is inherent in the present situation."

- The Vatican said it was following the situation with "great attention and concern."

- "We have consistently advised against attempting to access Gaza in this way, because of the risks involved," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague. "But at the same time, there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations."

- Turkey has recalled its Israeli ambassador over the incident, canceled three military exercises with the Israeli military and called back its youth national football team from Israel, where two games were scheduled, said Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will return to Turkey from Chile after meeting with the Chilean president, Arinc said. The chief of the Turkish military is cutting short a trip to Egypt. The Turkish-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation or IHH was one of the organizers of the flotilla.

- "This operation will leave a bloody stain on the history of humanity," said Arinc.

- Nations including France, Spain and Bahrain, among others, condemned the violence. The Italian foreign minister has asked the European Union for a "serious and detailed" investigation.

- Police stepped up security across Israel.

- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for three days of mourning in the Palestinian territories.

- "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this Israeli attack on civilians who came from all over the world peacefully with wheelchairs and food supplies and medical supplies," said Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

- Said Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad: "Nothing can excuse this attack by armed forces on a humanitarian convoy. The Palestinian government strongly condemns this crime, which portrays, once again, Israeli disrespect for the lives of innocent civilians, and its disrespect for international law."

- Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, said: "The Israeli occupation tries to deny this massacre by saying that the activists on the boat are from Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood and this is a lying campaign, because the activists are international activists and between them are parliament members of western countries and know international peace activists."

- The British Foreign Office said it was seeking "urgent clarification" into the incident.

- After summoning its Israeli ambassador, the Greek foreign ministry said that the visit of the Israeli Joint Chiefs - scheduled for Tuesday - is being postponed, and that the Greek-Israeli military exercise that was in progress has been discontinued. A Greek foreign affairs ministry official could not say how many Greeks were aboard the six ships.

- Among the activists aboard the flotilla was Fatima Mohammadi from Chicago, according to the Free Gaza Movement – Chicago. Kevin Clark, a member of the organization, said that neither he nor Mohammadi's mother, who lives in Boise, Idaho, had heard from her. "None of us envisioned they would do this," said Clark. "Speaking for myself, this will not deter us."

- The Israeli Prime Minister's Office has issued a serious travel warning for Israelis visiting Turkey. The warning calls Israelis who are about to travel into Turkey to postpone their trip and for Israelis in Turkey to remain indoors and avoid presence in the city centers.

- More than 15,000 Israelis have canceled plans to visit Turkey, according to Guliz Akdeniz Ay, an official with tourism sales for Brontes Travel Agency, a leading travel agency in bringing Israeli tourists to Turkey. "So far, we have received more than 15,000 cancellations," he said Monday, for tours beginning the second week of June and continuing throughout the summer. All charter planes from Israel to the Turkish Mediterranean resorts of Bodrum and Marmaris have been canceled, he said.

- Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the raid will inflame the region. "Lebanon strongly condemns this attack and calls on the international community, and specifically on the major countries which are supposed to be responsible about the peace process, to take action in order to stop this continuous violation of human rights, which is putting the international peace at risk," he said.

THE CONVOY

- The convoy of boats left European ports in a consolidated protest organized by two pro-Palestinian groups to deliver tons of food and other aid to Gaza by breaking a blockade imposed by Israel in 2007. The groups are: Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish-based IHH, a humanitarian relief foundation affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood religious group.

- The convoy approached Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade, and was shadowed by three warships. Free Gaza had reported Sunday that they had been contacted by the Israeli navy. Israel wanted the flotilla to dock at Ashdod port, where supplies would be unloaded and transferred to Gaza.

- About 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid flows into Gaza per week, said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

- Saying that Israeli civilians were subjected to rockets and missiles fired from Gaza that had originated from places like Iran and Syria, the military prevents all ships from reaching the Gaza shore so that ammunition or missiles cannot be brought in, Regev said.

- Israel said Sunday that Western and Turkish authorities have accused IHH of having "working relations" with different terrorist organizations.

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soundoff (568 Responses)
  1. Alireza

    Educate yourself about the TRUTH... watch on Youtube the video "Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers".

    May 31, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slumberg

      So if I you break into my house in the middle of the night with guns in each arm you expect me to invite you in for coffee? Get serious.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ROB

    AM I,NICK MY BROTHER,YOU ARE F***ING CRAZY,ZONIST FREEK,EVERYBODY HAVE THIS SAME RIGHTS-YOU F*** TOO,FREE PALESTINE,FREE ALL.NICK YOU ARE NOT TOO BRIGHT,TOO LATE FOR YOU

    May 31, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      I'm not your brother. I honestly feel sorry for idiots like you. Have you ever had a cogent thought? Or do you think that screaming obscenities is actually an acceptable method of advancing your argument?

      May 31, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MOHAMAD KOURDY

    I ONLY WANT TO KNOW FIR HOW MUCH THIS IDIOT TURKISH PRIMINSTER HAS SOLD HIMSELF TO THOSE BARBERIAN BUTCHERS WHO RUN THE IRANIAN REGIME ??? SORRY FOR YOU TARIQ . YOU REALLY ARE NO MORE THAN A CHEAP ASS .......

    May 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      You have a good point. After supporting the murderous Iranian regime Turkey's hypocracy is evident.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      What does the flotilla have to do with Iran ?! The fact that you automatically associate the flotilla with Iran reflects the typical low level, ignorant, one dimensional thinking which borders on racism.
      Have you ever been outside your own country or state. As an American who has worked in both Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, the one thing I learned is that you cannot develop a decent understanding of other races and religions by just watching TV in your living room. Again, the flotilla has nothing to do with Iran. The current Iranian regime has a horrendous human rights record, but Israel's inhumane and terrible treatment of the Palestinians and blockade of Gaza
      also puts Israel in the same category. In fact, judging by their record, they are just as bad, with all the constant shelling and bombing of Gaza and persecution of the Palestinians. I wonder how you would feel, Nick, if you were in the shoes
      of a Palestinian who was evicted out of his own house, with his land taken away.
      Last but not least, what the hell is Israel doing storming and hijacking a ship in international waters. This act puts them
      in the same league as the Somali pirates. The mere fact that they stormed and invaded a ship in int'l waters is a no brainer that Israel has committed a criminal act.

      May 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ROB

    ALIZERA HOW ISRAELI POSTED THIS S*** ON YOUTUBE,F***ING SCAM,WHY?POOR JEWS,LET'S ME CRY AGAIN,POOR THINGS,ATTACKED BY BOATS WITH HUMANITARIAN DELIVERY,F*** ME I WILL FEEL AFFRAID TOO,THIS FOOD WAS NOT KOSHER,F*** all the idiots.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Genesis

    Without going into he said, she says its pretty amazing to see how quickly the Israeli PR machine fires up and comes out in droves to these comment boards to proclaim Israeli innocence. I am not an expert in the field but over last few years I have noticed a steady decline in support for Israel worldwide and you would think in this climate they would have opted for a different approach with less of a risk to loss of life. This was either incompetence on part of their military and civilian leadership or pure disregard for consequences of which either two would be concerning.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      Any facts to support your claim? Are you typically crtical of Israel? Be honest.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jamila

    Incredible. Despite years of arguments to the contrary, against everyone of my friends and family who said this, I now see its origins, right here on this site, with the posts that have come in during such a short time period: "just scratch the surface and anti-Jewish sentiments pop right out", just waiting to be release the minute a serious economic or social crisis erupts.What a disgusting realization to come to as a result of this incident. For those people who have posted comments with correct spelling and grammar, I read them all and feel sorry for those who are have been coopted arab propaganda, and relieved to see that there are also those who are illuminated with careful, perceptive reading: they draw the right conclusions and are not afraid to be in the minority. It's being with the majority that should always be questioned. Think about the idiocy of the Moroccans who said to me (and they were university grads!!) that it's obvious Jews controlled the US since they comprise 40% of the population. OK. Enough said.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      You are a voice of reason.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slumberg

      "What a disgusting realization to come to as a result of this incident". Well apparatnly Israel's actions speak a lot louder than a few of your Morrocan firends' words. How ironic it is that you whine about anti-Jewish sentiment (which is well deserved after today by the way) while you make a feeble attempt at stirring up anti-Arab sentiment. Typical Jewish strategy to cover their own crap.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ROB

    GENESIS -GOOD POINT,ANYBODY OUT THERE.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Slumberg

    As my Jewish friends would say- that F"inyahoo feller should be exterminated for being an ignorant war mongering fool.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ROB

    ALL YOU F***S ITS MEMORIAL DAY.WHAT THE F*** YOU DID TODAY.AND F*** YOU IF YOU DID NOTHING,BIG THANKS TO TREVOR(AFGANISTAN-US ARMY)-WE WILL WAIT.F*** YOU SELF LOWLIFE PUNKS.F*** ISRAEL

    May 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ROB

    CHAGE U.S POLICY NOW!

    May 31, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Scott G

    I have always been a supporter of Israel. This latest incidence has changed that stance. I don't believe that crap they are spewing about this being a terrorboat, that the people involved were prepared for violence (metal bats – against Israeli commandos? – right), about the troops apparently boarding with paintball guns? Idiocy. Israel needs the US – the US doesn't need Israel. Time to try and cooperate rather than behaving like petulant children Israel...

    May 31, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nick

    Rob, no one is going to take a cretin like you seriously when all you can do is drop the f bomb. Learn English fool and then you can engage in debate. Or is that too much to ask from someone who clearly isn't too bright?

    May 31, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ROB

    A group founded by Nelson Mandela that includes Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter said "the treatment of the people of Gaza is one of the world's greatest human rights violations and that the blockade is not only illegal, it is counterproductive." I'M SORRY-F*** ISRAEL

    May 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lars Sweden

    Whole world condemn Israel right now and ALL agree this is a violation with big V, The experts over the world say this is Kidnapping and piracy

    Even many Israelis are ashamed for this barbarian raid

    May 31, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      The activists were not interested in a peaceful resolution; they made that very clear. Nothing is ever one sided. The activists share a good portion of responsibility in this very unfortunate incident and so does Hamas with their murderous ideology.

      May 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • abdul

      These activists got what they deserved.

      May 31, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barry

    Israel attacked this ship in international waters against all maritime laws regarding such an act. By all legal definitions this was an act of pure Piracy and Terrorism. It damned time the world ,especially the US, stopped kissing Israel's backside. The Jewish people are decent people but Israel as a country is not much more than a Terrorist State itself.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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