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. Jamila

    And to JRu, "the Talmud preaches hate"??????????????????? have you actually bothered to look at the Koran and the Hadiths? Have you tried to read it? Even the simple portions that are not metaphoric? About women, about marriage, about Jews??????????????????? Then give us a reasoned analysis of where you think the Talmud preaches hate but that the Koran does not. I think you have your two volumes confused. Reflect on that a little. Ask your arab friends, as I did mine while I was living there, for a translation of the concept "tenderness" - and that's just the first step in understanding the violence and hatred from a people that were once, in the middle ages, the poets of the world. What a fall from grace.

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

      I have read both the Koran and the Talmud. If you want to condone Isreals behavior to an unarmed supply ship to the Koran try someone else. This "behavior" HAS NO EXCUSES. The ship was an INTERNATIONAL AID SHIP with people on it that had not religious beliefs from UK, DENMARK, SWEDEN ect ect. What isreali soldiers are taught by their elder rabbinical scholars is appauling. For example: KILLING THE GOYIM is not a crime. THIS IS THE BEHAVIOR IN QUESTION. THIS IS IN THE TALMUD and this is what your beloved IDF's ideals come from. This is the cause of such violent behavior. It figures that some of these dolts will always try to shift the blame on someone else. Like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar your going to get any excuse imaginable and far fetched. So isreal attacking an aid convoy from a foreign country in international waters with commando's at dawn (typical military scenerio) is some how the Korans fault...or should we say the Palestinians fault? Yeah just a simple check of the cargo with an elite commando force at dawn. No bad intentions on the part of Isreal there????!!!! Please stop your racial profiling that all of ISLAM is radical. I have been involved and exposed to the IDF first hand. I am not an arab or a Muslim. I am someone that looks at both sides and comes to my own conclusions like a rational thinking human being. I don't choose sides by what flashes over the news network or what is advertised as popular. I actually talk to people from both sides of the equation. AS AN ADULT YOUR JOB IS TO FIND THE TRUTH.

      May 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jamila

    Scott: the past tense of "fight" is not "fighted" as you wrote, but "fought". Let's start there...then we can talk...

    May 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • 227

      Jamila, is your only response to this Illegal act performed by the Jewish Terrorists is to criticize everyone’s grammar??

      May 31, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sine

      your arrogance is unbearable.

      May 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. solomon

    *

    A Special Place in Hell / The Second Gaza War: Israel lost at sea
    We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege, which is itself becoming Israel's Vietnam.
    By Bradley Burston

    A war tells a people terrible truths about itself. That is why it is so difficult to listen.

    We were determined to avoid an honest look at the first Gaza war. Now, in international waters and having opened fire on an international group of humanitarian aid workers and activists, we are fighting and losing the second. For Israel, in the end, this Second Gaza War could be far more costly and painful than the first.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jamila

    to JAM: yes, you're spouting the party line as one would expect...there are more complex ways of interpreting historical acts and exploring their source(s) than repeating the formulae that are fed like babyfood to those unwilling or unable to do the research themselves, and draw the conclusions from the overwhelming evidence. There is no dialogue when there is so much blindness and so little insight. It's a loss to both sides.

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

    What the Talmud Really Says About Jesus:
    What exactly is so scandalous? How about Jesus punished in Hell for eternity by being made to sit in a cauldron of boiling excrement?
    See Peter Schaefer's book, Jesus in the Talmud published by Princeton University Press

    May 31, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott

    fighted for and fought for are the same. Learn the english language. The facts don't change by an interpretation of english. You CANNOT dispute facts!!!!!

    May 31, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    All the facts are not yet in. I would like to know what the COMPLETE contents of this "Humanitarian" shipment were.
    Why did the Arabs onboard the 'humanitarian' ship resort to violence FIRST? What were they trying to protect or hide?
    Yeah – like I believe the Arab response to this conflict...
    The Isralis have it right by not letting the EU OR the UN interfere in their efforts to protect their country.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • 227

      Steve, the people on board the ships resorted to violence because they were under attack from pirates. They did not respond first. The Israeli pirates attacked them first. The al-Qaida of Jerusalem must be stopped NOW!!!!

      May 31, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. microserf

    The jews actually believe they are the chosen ones, God's people, and all others be damned as cattle. All that counts to them is Israel and Jews, to hell with the rest of the world. They are Racist, bigoted aparthniks.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • abdul

      To a fool, just as an fyi. Jews have been around far longer than you and yours and will be around far longer after the demise of you and yours.

      May 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lars Sweden

    microserf

    ""The British are poisoning our waters and wildlife ""

    That one was todays " funny" (not for the environment) but for you wrote it,,, i guess the oil was going to be sold in UK correct!? start to junk your stupid hummers ! maybe you don´t need so much oil in first place, how was it with the Kyoto agreement??? why you even care about the oil spill more then as spoiled gasoline?

    May 31, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 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 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jam

    'Sir' Martin Gilbert, indefatigable Jewish campaigner on behalf of the ‘Holocaust’ and biographer of Winston Churchill, adds to the rich flavour and makes his own numerical claims, certainly not without chutzpah:

    In his book Auschwitz and the Allies (1981) he states

    ‘The deliberate attempt to destroy systematically all of Europe’s Jews was unsuspected in the spring and early summer of 1942: the very period during which it was at its most intense, and during which hundreds of thousands of Jews were being gassed every day at Belzec, Chelmo, Sobibor and Treblinka.’ (p.26). [This statement, first noticed by Professor Robert Faurisson, was then deleted (not corrected) from the next edition – no simple typo, no simple error with omission or spelling or grammar, just a case of being caught red-handed in blatant chutzpah deluxe.]

    If we assume a minimum figure of 200,000 per day, this amounts to say a million a five-day working week, or 6 million in six weeks..

    May 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. azmus

    Jamila are u school teacher ? what the hell? People are trying put their feelings into words about important issue and all you are looking at spell check, WOW! get real baby! if you don't have anything to say besides spell checking just shut up!

    May 31, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. microserf

    Lars, BP is a British company. What I was implying is that we americans take charge of things on our land and waters that affect us. It is in our interest not the British to clean this up. Their waters and wildlife aren't dying. Time for Americans to take charge of their own destiny and things in their own back yard. I do agree we are the oil consumers, so is sweden by the way.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • 227

      Serf,
      America tries to take charge of everything if it is on our own land or anybody else’s . It is only a matter of time before we send 20,000 troops and 100 billon Dollars to Gaza to take over for the Israeli Terrorists

      May 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lars Sweden

      Microserf (sorry not address before down)

      ""It is in our interest not the British to clean this up"" you for shore right,and also BP damn responsibility to do so !!

      ""Time for Americans to take charge of their own destiny and things in their own back yard."" 100% right again

      ""so is sweden by the way."" hmmm,,,woww ,,try play lotto today ,,full points 😉 )

      Ps i think u understand my point Ds

      May 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jamila

    to JAM, a PS: you call the Israelis' acts "crimes" but I do not. The crimes of the centuries have been committed against Jews (before there was an Israel, long before) and it was easy to hate an entire culture that did not have a homeland, did not have an army, did not have a government. Very easy. What is difficult, and demanding, is to recognize what is the right of a people, an entire people, spread out among all the countries of the world, who AT LEAST had education, culture, and yes, books. These are the repositories of knowledge and they are how we emerge from darkness. "Crimes" you say? I say "remaining a viable culture" - don't worry, soon enough it will disappear. The last time I was in Morocco, a familiy with whom I had dinner was one that had 24 (twenty-four) children. The average family had between 4-9 children (not in the large urban areas, but in the Sahara and the Atlas mountains) compared to the average Jewish family of 2-3 children. It will not be long. But until that time, I am here to talk and write.

    May 31, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lars Sweden

    Steve

    There was much more people on board that ships then "Arabs", people that would not accept any weapon smuggling or other action of violence

    May 31, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
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