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. indyp

    No doubt AIPAC members are on the phone with senators, house members, media, etc, Israel PR machine is in overdrive, this story will be a non story in 2 days.......unfortunately.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    Israel is the only country who will not aplagize by fighting Islamofascism.

    If the whole world would do the same Al Qude and its supporters would cease to exist. We would be able to take away the airport screeners bomb detectors – you name it.

    If you thing by wiping out Israel, Islamofascism will end, you are mistaking. Even Bin Laden will admit that Israel is just part of the problem.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SSA

    It is American to question government so lets question Israel. Israel has killed Americans(i.e. Rachel Corrie and the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty when Israeli fighter jets deliberately killed 34 US Naval crew members) and have been caught spying as well on us as well in the past. Israel is also in violation of more UN resolutions than any other country in the world and it is only 62 years old. Its total body count against the Palestinians is very disproportionate. It has been dropping missiles and bombs on Palestinians for over 62 years and even former president Jimmy Carter of the United States calls Israel an Apartheid State. It is human nature to resist occupation and the Palestinians are occupied. Those aid ships were in international waters and they were boarded by force. This technically means that Israeli actions were an act of piracy. Please also note that the AIPAC (Israeli Lobby) has openly bragged about its control over Congress.

    In conclusion Israel killed a large number of innocent volunteer aid workers. Its defense will be trying to associate the flotilla with terrorism but that is clearly false. Then they will call them anti Semites but once again Israel is the apartheid state. Lastly they will claim self defense but they were in International waters. I urge everyone to learn the Israeli propaganda tactics it uses to justify its actions. Israel was the aggressor when aid was aboard those ships. Please asks your self why wheel chairs are not allowed in Gaza after Israel left over 1400 dead and thousands more wounded?

    May 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Well the fallout is getting worse, guess the Israeli prime minister is cancelling the meeting he was suppose to have tomorrow with President Obama. Any wonder why? I am also curious about who exactly ordered the raid to go forward while Bibi was in North America, there have been reports that the extreme right wing in Israel are decided;y unhappy with the peace initiatives so far and do not trust President Obama. O and I really doubt that they will find "tons of weapons" and in fact will find only the small arms that have so far been reported. Remember, Israel does not like peace activists who espouse a pro Palestinian point of view. They ran over one with a bull dozer, who by the way, if I remember correctly was an American.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lars Sweden

    I will find out every pcs of product coming from Israel,,never ever i will support Israel products again

    May 31, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    i think ISrael being crticized is ridiculous. if it were me and they acted like they did i would have ordered them sunk lol

    May 31, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ROB

    JONH IS CRAZY

    May 31, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ahmad

    During the war: Some 3,500 homes were completely destroyed, some 2,800 sustained heavy damage, and some 54,000 were lightly damaged.These homes housed about 325,000 people.

    • Policy on import of construction materials (cement, glass, iron) prior to the war: Banned, few humanitarian exceptions.

    • Policy on import of construction materials today: Construction materials (cement, glass, iron, etc.) banned; 19 trucks of mostly cement and gravel permitted to enter for exceptional humanitarian projects.

    • Needed to rebuild homes: At least 40,000 tons of cement, 25,000 tons of iron

    May 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Amalia

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/05/25/fancy-restaurants-and-olympic-size-pools-what-the-media-won%E2%80%99t-report-about-gaza/#ixzz0p3NJOND0

    Read this people. It WAS NOT written by an Israeli.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Using your logic, the concentration camps couldn't have been that horrible because the Jews formed orchestras, created limited works of art, etc

      May 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ahmad

    During the war: Seven out of 12 electric lines were shut down; the power station operated only 50% of the time. One million people were without electricity, and half a million people were without running water.

    • Needed prior to the war to repair and maintain infrastructure: 172 types of spare parts that were either completely out of stock or were below minimum supply; 3.5 million liters/week industrial diesel for power station.

    • Needed today to repair and maintain infrastructure: 240 types of spare parts that are either completely out of stock or are below minimum supply; 3.5 million liters/week industrial diesel for power station.

    • Policy on import of materials prior to the war: Industrial diesel supply for power station limited to no more than 63% of need; parts stood idly for months in warehouses in Israel and the West Bank? due to the restrictions and delays on their import into the Gaza Strip.

    • Policy on import of materials for infrastructure today: Permission granted exceptionally for the entrance of fewer than 100 trucks carrying spare parts and building materials; industrial diesel still limited to no more than 63% of need.

    • Repercussions: 40,000 people have no electricity; 10,000 have no running water; power outages eight hours a day, four days a week for most areas; 87 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage dumped into the sea daily for lack of electricity and spare parts

    May 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John C. Mayer

    All of this violence, not just this latest act but all of the violence that has taken place since 1948 when Israel was granted a homeland or State is taking place in the Holy Land. Am I missing something here? Isn't Jesus the "Prince of Peace?" Isn't this or shouldn't this be the place where religion truly shines of magnificance and beauty and peace? Well for those of you who think the Bible and the Q'uran and the Book of Moses are filled with contradictions to the point of challenging your beliefs, you are correct. The "Holy Land" and religion really has no control over human conflict and if anything actually contributes to it in a big way. We can start with the Crusades as a good example and it has been going on ever since.Mankind will find a way to destroy himself whether it's religiously motivated or driven by greed.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ahmad

    The Constant Crisis in Gaza
    The Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis ever since April of 2006, when border closings and the lack of foreign aid caused a severe shortage of fuel, foods and medical care. Gazans suffer shortages of essen-tial commodities and the rise in market prices has made it difficult for families to have an adequate, healthy and balanced diet.

    The Karni crossing, which serves as the main conduit for commercial goods into Gaza, has been closed since June 13th, 2007. This has devastated the Gazan economy. ”In June 2007, there were 748 truckloads of ex-ports leaving Gaza for Israel and other countries. A month later there were none”.

    In Gaza over 80% of Palestinians are now depending on foreign aid compared to 63% of 2006. Unem-ployment in Gaza is close to 40% and is set to rise to 50%. The private sector – that generates 53% of all jobs in Gaza is crumbling.

    The health sector remains unstable as the severe lack of fuel causes power cuts. According to the July 2007,UNRWA Gaza Situation Report, primary and secondary health care facilities are still functioning de-spite shortages of electricity and supplies such as X-ray film, laboratory kits, patient beds and examination tables. However there are ongoing shortages of chronic disease drugs and anaesthetics, and a considerable portion of equipment and machines are out of order, overloading the remaining capacity of hospitals.

    WHO reports that at least 51 people have died from October 2007-July 2008 as a direct result of not being able to access medical care outside Gaza – among these were 11 children.

    The fuel shortage and the lack of spare parts required to repair and upgrade Gaza’s wastewater treatment plants have forced the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility to continue dumping approximately 84,000 m3 of raw and partially treated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea each day.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ROB

    BOB IS NAZI

    May 31, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    ROB is a nazi D+++ lol. watch him go ballistic folks lol

    May 31, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ROMANsmk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRcu-Fmgvdo, enjoy the propaganda show. Either way the maniacs in Gaza Win. The clown at the top of the UN should be nominated for world greatest appeaser. How the hell the UN carries any weight on anything is just unreal. So, can I now settle in for my annual terrorist supporter rally in Toronto? IHH is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, that wonderful gang of murders that spawned OBL and his number 2. Great, I am sure they had nothing but good intentions. I will give the Arab nations and there people credit for one thing, they are masters at MSM propaganda. Now they have not really contributed much of anything to the world in a few 100 years, well closer to a 1000, but they are good at this.... Well done Arab world! The Muslim world as far as I can tell are a Leftists dream. The ultimate victims, never responsible for anything, always at the mercy of outside forces, never accountable, never the aggressors, always in need and ofcouse the greatest example of social injustice of all time. I mean , when will the world finally get it. The Muslims hate the Jews period! Their hatred is so engrained and timeless and part of there collective victimhood that it cannot be abandoned or they would have to face themselves and that would expose the failure of the culture of death. I think my father was right when he said, it is a distraction, make the best of your life and do good because that garbage in the Middle east will never end, ever and will be a cancer of the world long after we are gone.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
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