Turkey warns of "irreversible consequences"

Israel Navy troops boarded the flotilla bound for Gaza after protesters did not heed orders to turn back.

The IDF reports over ten deaths and numerous wounded when Israel Navy troops boarded ships in the flotilla heading for Gaza and took them over. An IDF spokesman said the weapon of one soldier was seized from him and used to fire at the troops, who returned fire.

The gunfire was clearly audible during a live broadcast from the ship. Video clips clearly show so-called peace activists beating IDF troops with clubs and iron bars. Reports state that activists also used knives and tried to seize the weapon of one soldier.

In the aftermath of the boarding, Turkey made a furious official response. A statement by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, "We protest in the strongest terms the use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces."

It adds, "We strongly condemn these inhuman acts of Israel. This grave incident which took place in high seas in gross violation of international law might cause irreversible consequences in our relations.

"Besides the initiatives being conducted by our Embassy in Tel Aviv, this unacceptable incident is being strongly protested and explanation is demanded from Israel’s Ambassador in Ankara, who has been invited to our Ministry."

The IDF's statement on the incident says, " The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid material which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections."

During the intercept of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured, in addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

The IDF spokesman said that according to reports from sea, on board the flotilla IDF forces apprehended two violent activists holding pistols. The violent activists took these pistols from IDF forces and apparently opened fire on the soldiers as evident by the empty pistol magazines.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 31, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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