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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Filed under: Israel • Middle East
soundoff (568 Responses)
  1. NATO

    What are the NATO agreements to which the US contracted on a non-NATO member / NATO member lethal confrontation?

    June 2, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. blue bird

    Is the stronger one who can take your wife, and your life …
    "Empires expand until someone is strong enough to stop them. ...”
    Attila

    June 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kasaboyakanka

    soo it proven the photo is fake (by metadata/date imbued) and the video on youtube is badly directed somewhere else.

    June 2, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hammer

    How fat the world forgets ,Turky is now being praised for being so humane.The whole Arab world out raged.Where was all that out rage when Turky murdered over 2 million Armenians,Men,woman,little girls young boys murdered.I dont have to tell you what the human Turks did before they killed them.Not one time not one sorry from Turkish leaders,The excuse was they thought the Armenians might revolt.Dont let them forget,On 9-11 where was the out rage ?Palestinians celebrating in the streets look it up on You Tube,Threir religious leaders thanking Alah their god for 9-11 Gaza its leaders Hamas a Muslim terrorist group on the UN list of terrorists.They cant beat Isreal or the US in batle so they try every trick in the book.I beg of you dont let them forget the poor Armenians that were murdered with not on word of oppalogise,America is at war with Muslim terror

    June 3, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steph

      Don't you DARE speak for me Hammer. I am not at war with any MUSLIM. I hate LIARS and people who are cruel and oppressive govts and racism and war. You don't know the history of Israel's creation or that Israel was created without the consent of the people who lived there. To achieve peace, the lies must stop, the greed must stop, the propganda must stop.

      June 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steph

    Hey, Netenyahu..... can you explain how preventing children from having toys or schoolbooks and forbidding tea and coffe and water filters helps to defend Israel?
    Why does no one ask this important question?

    June 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. big d

    let's move israel to north dakota and be done with it before israel gets us all killed. also i voted for obama expecting change and he still licks israel's wall street boots like every other U.S. president. sick of it. exactly why do we keep supporting these nazis? why can't they understand that the reason everyone wants them gone since the beginning of time is this sick mentality that makes them justify their sick cruelty. surely everyone in germany didn't just wake up one day and say let's exterminate jews. they probably acted just like they do now and if they keep it up, they're gonna get simular results.

    June 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. big d

    p.s. what's so wrong with the idea of the destruction of israel if it saves the world. obviously the existance of israel equals the eventual end via ww3.

    June 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Timothy Stinson

    Where is our news media and where are President Obama or other members of this administration on the plight of the wounded American and the other 9 Americans being held by Israel? When the two American journalists were being held by North Korea and one American journalist for NPR was detained by Iran, our news media and this administration provided daily commentary on their status. We not only have an American wounded by Israeli forces but also 9 others that are being detained by Israel and neither our media nor anyone in the Obama administration is anywhere to be found!
    If President Obama wants to understand why he's lost what little credibility he had in the region, he need not look any further than his own mirror!

    June 3, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. paul k

    This is a direct result of how the world of politics operate. US will always back Israel for its own benefit. As long as that remains as a fact, Israel's actions doesn't really surprise me. What took place was piracy and murder of civilians. If this crime was committed by any other country, US would be the first country to condemn it. It is extremely sad how US always stops short of critisizing of wrongdoing and/or condemning of Israel even when the administration knows it is the truth. It's hard to tell which one is the master and which one is the puppet anymore. In any event, I think Israel has lost an exteremly valuable friend in the region. I assure you,Turkey's friendship is far more valuable to Israel than its curse.

    June 4, 2010 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. MIKI

    VVVVVvvVV
    check this out...........http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KUcv452KbU

    June 4, 2010 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Peter Robinson`

    My grandfather was in Europe in the 20's. He told me that there was terrible inflation in Germany because of war reparations paid to England and France. He said the he saw and was told the German citizens who were Jewish used money from relatives outside of Germany to buy up properties in Germany when the local Germans had no outside source of funds. He said that this caused the local Germans to say that the German Jews were Jews first and Germans second and that this caused great hatred for the German Jews. I know that my grandfather was a faithful reporter of what he personally observed and that he had no inherant bad feelings for Jews. I know that he would have been totally against the Holacaust which occurred later when he was back in America. But he said that he could understand why Jews were hated by the common people in Germany and that this hatred was exploited by Hitler. So I see a pattern in Jewish actions that emphasizes the benefits to Jews with no regard to the harm to others. History seems to be repeating what my grandfather saw almost 100 years ago.

    I was born and raised as a Quaker and I am a peaceful man. But I caution that with their actions that the Israelis are sowing the seeds of their own destruction in the long run. From what I see, I conclude that Israil has no intention of ever treating the Palestinians with fairness and decency.

    I believe that they world would work to protect the interests of Israel if they would only treat the Palestinians with fairness. But Israel seems to have friends only in the US and as an American, I deplore that America is often the one voice speaking out to protect Israel when the rest of the world tries to stop what Israel is doing to the Arab peoples.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. Peter Robinson`

    correction to what I just posted. Where I said, "I believe that they world would work to protect the interests of Israel if...", it should be corrected to "I believe that THE world would work to protect the interests of Israel if..."

    June 4, 2010 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. R

    I didn’t see more peaceful people in the world, millions of Arabs leave in Israel- Israeli citizens, and NOBODY want to leave Israel. But always socialists and Europe want to look “good” in Arab’s eyes, to be nice for extremists, hope they will not go against them- well you can hope. War and only war against everybody who is not Muslim. They just going step by step slowly, first Israel then rest of the word. Fanatics. Peaceful people who want to bring help to Gaza- are you creasy? Nobody in Israel will stop you to bring food to Gaza. Every month millions of dollars Israel transfer to Gaza, and food and medications. Do you know how many cancer children get FULL, FREE medical treatment in Israel? Hundreds. How many surgeries perform in Israel for Gaza people for FREE- thousands. Does somebody heard about this or somebody knows about this? Socialistic TV shows one picture of Israeli attack on Gaza- pure people. Do you know that from this point Israel was attacked by missiles 5 minutes ago? Not settlement, no “regular” city with kids in schools and old people on the streets. Do you know that Hamas fair these missiles from the house, that provoke Israel to attack this house, then scream how Israel bad? They don’t care about their own people. One goal -erase Israel. Watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeVvMJdvEX8&feature=related

    June 4, 2010 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. R

    Of course I am talking about extremist Muslim ONLY

    June 4, 2010 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. mark mach

    WWJD? What would JFK do? He's have blown them out of the water. Think CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS. You liberals would have surrendered right away.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
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