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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  1. Jam

    Statement by Richard Lynn, Professor Emeritus
    University of Ulster, December 5, 2005:
    "I've checked out the six volumes of Churchill's Second World War and the statement is quite correct – not a single mention of Nazi 'gas chambers,' a 'genocide' of the Jews, or of 'six million' Jewish victims of the war.
    Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe is a book of 559 pages; Churchill's Second World War totals 4,448 pages; and De Gaulle's three-volume Mémoires de guerre is 2,054 pages.
    In this mass of writing, which altogether totals 7,061 pages (not including the introductory parts), published from 1948 to 1959, one will find no mention either of Nazi 'gas chambers,' a 'genocide' of the Jews, or of 'six million' Jewish victims of the war."

    May 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. microserf

    STAND UP AMERICA. STAND UP OBAMA. The British are poisoning our waters and wildlife and the Israelis are sacrificing our security and reputation. Would somebody please step forward and take charge here.

    May 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jamila

    to Slumberg: Learn how to spell Moroccan CORRECTLY (wow, that's a start) then we can see if you've got anything intelligent to say, although it's likely that you've not been too well educated from what we've read thus far. It is fairly easy to come up with serious problems in the contemporary arab mindset; they themselves admit them. They are distraught with the repressive conditions of life there. Having lived in that society off and on for 10 years, I can assure you how frightened the Moroccans (and it's among the more "open" of muslim socieites, although that too is a real euphemism) are to even TALK about political , religious, or social questions in public due to constant undercover police presence. If you think for yourself, you're in trouble in the arab world today. It has regressed tremendously. At the university in Marrakech, a Moroccan faculty member who is a poet and lit prof, told me that "you either commit suicide or go crazy if you are an arab intellectual"– you have to invite outside speakers, organize international symposiums, or be invited by other universities internationally in order to stay sane. THERE ARE NO BOOKS IN ANY OF THE ARAB HOMES I STAYED IN EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHO TAUGHT AT UNIVERSITIES. NOTHING EXCEPT THE KORAN. No books. Think about what that means.

    May 31, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ahmad

    From the stories I've read, it seems like the boat people got what they deserved. What did these nincompoops expect to show on the high sea and clash with a countries soldiers and get away with it. When was the last time that ever happened?

    May 31, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • abdul

      even if u rvright, u ra traitor to your ppl.

      May 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ma

    It is really sickening to continue to see the zionist il-legitimate state of israel continue to abuse the rights of civilians. The latest murders and acts of Piracy in International waters should bring swift condemnation from the world and an end of US Tax dollars being wasted in support of what is becoming an Enemy of the world.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jamila

    Rob, by the way, you're in serious need of psychiatric attention. Calm down. You're like a character out of Scorcese's film Taxi Driver, waiting on the fringes with your foul language and bad English (what IS your nationality by the way?) to blow up the world around you. Take it easy. What is the source of your over-reaction? Consider where it comes from and what you can do to re-enter the civilized exchange of commentary....you're over the top. Get some perspective.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jam

    To Jamila: if the Israelis can commit the crimes they do with all the books in the world, the crimes are still crimes and the killings are still killings, and the demolished houses are still demolished and the violent racism is still violent racism. The difference is that all of this is not done in ignorance, making it all the more criminal. The world is starting to ask why the criminals are not being punished, and finding out that too many politicians are under zionist control – whether in Cairo or Washington or Paris or London.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gary - USA

    It's obvious that this was a planned act by both the activists and Turkey. Israel had a choice, be accomodating and let the relief through or respond with a hard-line approach. On the one hand they look weak, on the other, they isolate themselves further and fall into the activists trap. They chose violence. They wanted to send a message as much as the activists did. If they could have sunk those ships and killed eveyone aboard without too much fallout, they would have done it. To send a message.

    I don't blame Israel. I don't blame the activists or the Palestinians. But I do say this. As an American, I am sick of Israel. I don't want to hear anymore about Israel. I don't want to send them aid. I don't want to meet with their leaders. I want to cut this tie between our two countries and let the chips fall where they may. Let Israel decide its own fate.

    America is a nation of strong opinions and divided by topics such as this. It's good for us to debate. So I expect to be labelled as some hopeless liberal for these comments. Even hated. But mark my words, Israel is losing support in this country. A day will come when Israel is no longer an ally. For me, that day cannot come soon enough. And my vote will reflect that.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chicago

      I am with you Gary. I am sick and tired of Terrorist State of Israil's atrocities against international laws and innocent civilians. I no longer want them to pull us into thier sewege. Enough is enough. If Liberman and his friends want to support Israil in its illegal activities, they need to do that in Israil not in the US.

      May 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. guss123

    Let’s not forget what the Israeli terrorists aka: al-Qaida of Jerusalem did to J.C. when they sold him out to be crucified

    May 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Down With the ZOG

    Now, yet again, the people of America will get a firm demonstration of who really runs their country when their government refuses to condemn this act of international piracy and murder. You can bet that the response will be to send the jews more bullets to replace the ones they used. When will the world tire of Israel and unite to flush it once and for all? When will Americans tire of being tax slaves for this obscene state of parasites, white slavers and swindlers? When will the hypocrites in the Vatican begin to act as they preach and defend their flock against the predations of the jews? When will the great German people shed the false sense of guilt they carry for trying to defend the world against this plague? When will YOU wake up?

    May 31, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • abdul

      Let's be clear on somethings. The Jews have been around far longer than you and yours and will be around long after the demise of you and yours. Enough said..

      May 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • 227

      RIGHT ON!!

      May 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • abdul

      Let's be clear on somethings. The Jews have been around far longer than you and yours and will be around long after the demise of you and yours. Enough said.........

      May 31, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Eric

    Israel just dug a HUGE hole for themselves. It is clear to me the present neo-conservative leaders of Israel are hell bent on suicide. They attacked a freaking humanitarian AID ship in INTERNATIONAL waters for God's sake. The leadership in Israel needs to change, and it needs to change NOW. Anyone who is a friend of Israel (and the current leaders are not) needs to step up and demand these war mongering idiots be tossed out on their butts. This move by the Israel military could destabilize the region and make things much, much worse for Israel. The people in charge in Israel are acting with extreme stupidity.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JRu

    To AK if you have been studying the TALMUD for 25 years you must have skipped the parts that expose the blatant hatred of GOYIM. It so easy to find it is childS play. You claim to be an "expert" ? You can actually buy off the shelf programs that can translate hebrew into english. 24 million christians where killed in death camps is common knowledge along with gypsies and all others that the Nazi's considered undesireable. Why do I have to do your research? After 25 years you should have found what I found in one hour. You must be slow or a blind supporter of the Jewish tradition. PEOPLE IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT DRIVES ISREAL READ THE RACIST SCRIPT IN THE TALMUD. GOOGLE IT. Then all we be quite clear.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. abdul

    From the stories I've read, it seems like the boat people got what they deserved. What did these nincompoops expect, to show up on the high sea and clash with a countries navy and get away with it. When was the last time that ever happened???

    May 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eric

    Anyone who supports the Israeli military action against these aid workers is no friend of Israel. It is clear that this military attack against an aid vessel was a crime, and it is clear it is going to HURT Israel in the long run. Any SENSIBLE person will DEMAND that the war mongers that currently run Israel get thrown out of office. Any sensible person who loves Israel and does not want to see her destroyed KNOWS that this action will severely harm the country, and possibly destabilize the region. Don't give me this NONSENSE about Israel defending itself with heavy weapons and helicopter gun ships against civilians on an AID ship in INTERNATIONAL waters. Israel must make peace to survive, not war.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott

    First off I am a Catholic Christian and Israel has great roots in the history of my religion. However, I am appalled by Israel's ocupation and hostility towards palestinians in the Gaza Strip / West Bank. TO ISRAEL: You are not God and if you are a Jewish and Chrisitan nation you are NOT acting like it. Freedom from Egypt was what the Jews fighted for but they are now the NEW Egypt with respect to enslaving and controlling other people. I am disgusted by Israel and I am sure God is too.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
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