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. clarke griswolde

    Google" USS Liberty", you'll see how much of a friend Israel is. Time to clean house, the White House that is, of AIPAC influence. Time to disarm Israel, starting with their nukes.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    It was in international waters, all right. But “Aid pople” made there intentions clear where they are going, and what they want to do.

    If someone makes clear to you that are going the violate your borders, you are allowed to stop them before.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • John Smith

      Not in International waters. That is an act of war. You must wait until they cross into your waters to do ANYTHING. Otherwise, it's an act of piracy.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Shafiq

      They were going to Gaza – NOT Israel.

      The cargo and all the passengers had been checked for weapons by customs, before setting off – none were found.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. clarke griswolde

    Your myopic support of Israel is the reason the world rightly takes a dim view of dim-witted Americans, duped again by their handlers it seems.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Yacibe

    Israel is a terrorist and a racist state run in a mafia style. They always play the victim while they are the war criminals. They have no respect for human lives. Israel has the unconditional backup of US that's why it is always business as usual after every crime they commit.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. riley

    The pattern is always the same. Israel attacks, with machine-gun carrying thugs, unarmed civilians in international waters. The Israeli version "We were attacked by people with slingshots and metal rods." So of course Israel has to "defend itself" by machine gunning the decks, killing nine. Israel is a racist country that believes only Jewish life is of value. We in the US are no better – we pay for all of the Israeli atrocities.

    The same racism was apparent when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006. AFTER the ceasefire was negotiated, they cluster-bombed civilian areas – 90% of this bombing occurred AFTER the ceasefire was agreed to by both sides. Custer bombs are designed to maim - to rip off legs and arms, to terrorize and demoralize the enemy. Israel used these weapons against civilians. Since the war two hundred Lebanese children have been killed or maimed by the cluster bombs they encounter, unexploded in towns and fields.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      As long the Muslims won’t modernize from the 10’ century to the 21’s century, the world won’t live in peace in the world.

      As I outlined the pattern before: some of the Muslims fight all over the world with almost every nation with different reasons

      May 31, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    This was by far one of the stupidest things that Israel has ever done, and recently they have done some pretty dumb things. This attack on the flotilla was not authorized by any UN resolution and is an act of piracy. They have placed one of their few Muslim friends by killing its citizens, it has cause even more strain in US/Israeli relations and it has made them appear to be the aggressors by attacking a peace protests. Right now, Israel ranks next to "W" in terms of truthfulness. O BTW, it has been widely reported that Israel has nuclear weapons. The knowhow, they may not have used them like the US, but it is an open secret.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Courtier

    <<<>>

    ALL OUR MIDEAST policies are runs by AIPAC and ISRAEL LOBBY.

    Period.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Both sides claiming their cause is just, but both are kindred religions who believe in the same God.
    It's an embarassment on humanity that peace cannot be achieved in the middle east. I wonder what our forefathers would say if they saw this situation. Shame on you. Shame on all of us.

    Perhaps one day there will come a generation who will have the clarity to see this region's history for what it is, and the humility and courage to bring all sides together to achieve peace, once and for all. I would have thought in this age of enlightenment, it could have been us.

    It should have been us.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Poppy

      This post is by far the most logical I've read on here. Unfortunately it is unlikely peace will ever be achieved in this area during man's reign on earth. Human nature just will not allow it. Just look at the postings here; full of hate and blame, instead of any logical discussions........

      May 31, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Courtier

    AIPAC and Isreal Lobby runs OUR CONGRESS, MEDIA, Wall Street and our Churches

    ALL OUR MIDEAST policies are runs by AIPAC and ISRAEL LOBBY.

    Period.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. John

    If someone is promising to brake in to your house, and you see he is coming, aren’t you allowed to take action before he crosses your fence?

    May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith1952

      That is the problem, it isn't Israel's house.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    Israel has gone too far! This endless ruthless law breaking. I have had enough.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. ROB

    SENSSLESS.F*** ISRAEL

    May 31, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Poppy

      Hey Rob.....what's with all of the F bombs? Were you an english major in college? Oh, wait, never mind!

      May 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David M.

    Interesting that this "relief" flotilla decided to do this under cover of darkness. It's almost like they wanted confrontation. I think Israel used more force than is necessary, but it seems clear to me that those claiming to aid the Palestenians were setting it up for a confrontation. With 15,000 tons of relief reaching Palestine via Israel every week, how were these few boats going to make that much difference?? All they had to do was follow the existing procedures, but they decided no to. If they had stopped in Ashdod as requested, this would not have happened. It was a set up from the start.

    Keep in mind also that it is a stated, and written, objective of the Palestenian Authority, as well as numerous other terrorist groups, to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.They refuse to back down from that position. It's okay for them to lob bombs and rockets over in to Israel. No one challenges them on that point. But let Israel defend itself, and they are suddenly the bully of the world.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Shafiq

      Actually, the flotilla re-routed to avoid confrontation, but Israel still targeted them choosing to do so under the cover of darkness.

      The 15,000 tonnes that Israel allows in is only a quarter of what's needed by the Palestinians in Gaza. The flotilla contained stuff like wheelchairs and crayons, which are not being allowed in because they're supposedly 'security threats'.

      The offer to take the aid through Ashdod didn't solve the problem of the aid actually getting to Gaza. The organisers had no guarantees and when they previously channelled the aid through Israel, half of it didn't get to Gaza.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ROB

    JOHN IF SOMEBODY COMES TO YOUR HOUSE TO FEED YOUR SLAVES-HE IS HUMANITARIAN -NOT AGRESSOR.F*** ISREAL

    May 31, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith1952

      I will have to remember this line it is great.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    Colin in Canada you are saying that collective punishment on a population whose majority voted for Hamas deseve to be treated as caged animals. You are saying that they deserve this in-humane treatment for exercising thier right to vote. The vote was legitimate, Hamas was elected for better or for worse. You also say that because the majority voted Hamas into office then those same voters must be terrorists. The term terorists used by the US media is so loosely coined. The Palestinian people are not terrorists, they are the only people inthe world with no country. They have no self determination, they have no human rights, the Palestinians are only doing what any caged animal would do. It would fight for its survival, its existance. They tried demonstrating peacefully during the first Intifada, which was a spontaneous campaign of the people but Isreal used the same brutal tactics to suppress that campaign. If Isreal wants a true and lasting peace then they must co-exist side by side with the same rights as Isreali citizens, not second class citizens which is the case of Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Colin, you have no clue do you?

    May 31, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith1952

      Thanks for a reasoned response. Maybe other Americans will wake up soon and demand that the Scoundrels and Thieves that run our government quit taking the money of murders.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike The Canadian

      Well said.

      Colin from Canda, must be a new comer, because we are definatly not bone-headed as that moron was.
      On behalf of all Canadians, I applogize.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
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