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. Jamila

    salaam Slumberg! as the saying goes "some of my best friends are Moroccan" - and still are. They are following this exchange very closely and agree with my position. I adore the Moroccan people (that's how well you read texts!!) but it's their government (king and ministers) that's the problem. However, my arguments about this flotilla incident are posted for all to read if they can read. I'm never interested in deflecting an argument when intelligent people are engaged. Why ever would I want to do that? You can always learn something from a serious argument. Points have to be made. And I've been doing just that. Some people get it, others don't. Some learn, others don't. Doesn't bother me but it should bother you. Anyway, we will know all the facts soon enough and at that point I'm sure there will be lots of silence from many who are so verbal now. Cheers.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan

    When has any muslem ever agreed with anything that didnt go there way. They sure have a lot of countries that are run with a democratic government, and we know they follow all human rights laws. When all you bleeding hearts get done crying we had better take arms ourselves and start protecting our own boarders and send all of them home from our country. Oh I forgot 911 didnt happen. Im ready to fight them again.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • nate lindsey

      If the Hamas and the rest of the ARB world would accept the existence of Iseral there would peace in that part of the world. It is easy just accept, and leave Iseral alone and they will not be a problem for anyone.

      June 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mostafa

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_zJb06JXto&w=640&h=360]

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

    In any case, it's always the same thing: when no other scapegoats can be found, it's a sure thing that you can rally support through anti-semitism. It's worked in the past, and it continues to work today. The Israelis had every right to board that boat; arms are smuggled in wheelchairs just as easily as they are attached to human shields. We've gotten used to these tactics. Pretend to be offended that women and children and even men are innocent victims of Israeli aggression, but hide the fact that schools were used to house bombs in arab territories, and that secret tunnels were used to smuggle arms, and that constant rocket attacks were launched on innocent civilians in Israeli border towns. Let's forget all that because it doesn't serve our political ends. Let's just get the Jews, right? That's something we can all agree on.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jordi Basque

    ...another thing that just bugs me is that americans continue to be told time and again that Israel is the only democracy in the middle east, PLEASE just like Iran, Israel is a religious state, not a secular democracy.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy and Yaya

      oh, i forgot, Saudi ARabia isn't a religious state, and Syria , Iran and Egypt belong on the human rights council of the UN

      June 7, 2010 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Scott

    While I don't agree with 911 the action, it is a result of hatred. Hatred does not come from peace and understanding it comes from antagonism and hatred actions within itself. To have peace you have to extend understanding and peace. People don't inherently hate someone who is peaceful and nice, because there is no reason. You have to look in the mirror and say why does that person hate me? Only then can you mend a bad relationship. It is no different than a couples relationship gone bad. Only by understanding the other person's feelings can you make it better. Whether it is Countries or 2 People the dynamics of of a relation ship are the same.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lars Sweden

    Jamila

    How pathetic can a person be if he agree not to follow international stipulated laws,,,?? should we go back to stone age?

    May 31, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jordi Basque

    you state the fact very eloquently "arab territorues" these lands are theirs! Israel is occupying these arab lands. I am an ex US paratrooper and if there ever was a militarly supperior force occupying any part of the united states I'd be fighting the invaders by any means. And no I have not a bone of anti-semitism and it is sad that the folks from Israel all tooo soon have forgotten their historic plight

    May 31, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Richard

    To William..

    What the hell are you talking about ? You don't even live in Asia.
    As an American who has lived and worked in Asia, I know very well the growing threat and tension in the Korean peninsula which arose after the South Korean gov't discovered evidence that a North Korean sub sank a South Korean naval vessel in an unprovoked attack in South Korean waters. After working in China for quite some time, the Chinese know that the true feelings of China towards North Korea are not what the shallow western media report. The truth is that the central gov't in Beijing feel North Korea is increasingly becoming an annoyance, excess baggage, and a liability.
    In the same way, Israel has become a huge annoyance and liability for the U.S. Instead of spending and sending our hard earned tax money to Israel, who only seem to make headlines about how many tanks and bombs they drop in Gaza, the U.S. should invest more in strengthening relationships with countries who have something to contribute to the global economy and society like China, India, Brazil, Turkey..all of whom have GDP growth rates higher than the U.S.
    We Americans should demand that our tax money is no longer sent to a spoiled child who only knows how to cause trouble, and contributes nothing positive to the global community.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scott

    Jordi and Richard, You make my previous point awile ago very well.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. watching

    Wow, I have read the comments here. There are some interesting thoughts. Most people here seem to have strong opinions.
    Jamila seems to be hung up on correcting grammar and spelling, o well she appears to have that rather large chip on the shoulder with that mind of hers thinking she is better than everybody else.
    By the way Israel is nothing more than pirates and terrorists.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    Watching: I have spoken of reason and humanity. Both which have escsped the Israel's.

    May 31, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lars Sweden

    Richard

    Thanks for a great post 🙂

    ps also work China and phills Ds

    May 31, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lars Sweden

    Jamila

    Before you jump on me to..i am sorry for being dyslectic

    May 31, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lars Sweden

    so finally United Nation condemn the action of Israel, and demand stop blockade (US was careful in speak hehe)

    May 31, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
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