15 Killed as IDF Raids Ships

Published: May 31st 2010
in News » Israel

IDF soldiers during the raid
Pic: YouTube

At least 15 activists were killed early Monday morning as IDF forces raided the ships taking part in the Gaza aid flotilla.


According to IDF reports, some 6 soldiers were also injured during the incident which took place on the Marmara ship. The injuries came from stabbing and live ammunition. The injured were airlifted to Israeli hospitals for treatment.


Arab and Turkish media first reported on the incident, and said that the soldiers attempted to take over the ships by raiding them from the sea and the air at the same time. According to the reports, hundreds of soldiers took part in the raid.


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at a press briefing, together with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Navy Commander Eliezer Marom that the flotilla’s organizers are responsible for the deadly raid.


“We express our regret over the injuries, but the sail's organizers and its participants are fully responsible,” said Barak. “The State of Israel appealed to the organizers before the ships set sail and during the sail and invited them to arrive at the Ashdod Port and transfer the aid to Gaza after security checks. All of our appeals were turned down. The soldiers were attacked after arriving at one of the ships. Some were injured by serious physical violence on the part of the protestors.”


Ashkenazi explained that the soldiers were attacked by iron bars, knives, and that the activists went so far as to snatch weapons from the soldiers. The IDF Spokesman’s website said that “[t]he demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose” and added that reports from IDF forces on scene indicated that some of the participants were planning to lynch the soldiers.


Ashkenazi added that the soldiers were equipped with crowd dispersal equipment but that it “was not enough” to complete the mission. The operation, said Ashkenazi, was aimed at preventing the infiltration of unsupervised materials to the Gaza Strip.


Turkey recalls ambassador; Israelis warned against visiting Turkey


Following the deadly incident, Turkey announced that it would be withdrawing its ambassador to Israel. Joint drills with the IDF were cancelled, and a Turkish youth soccer team was called back as well. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc equated Israel’s actions with piracy.


Meanwhile, a warning has been issued to Israelis, advising them not to travel to Turkey. This is following a number of anti-Israel protests in Turkey, which included demonstrators trying to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul.


Arab world condemns Israel


Ynet reported that hundreds of Palestinians protested in Qalandiya (near Ramallah) against the Israeli military operation against the Gaza aid flotilla. The protestors called out anti-Israel slogans and slogans in support of the activists on the ships.


Related articles: (gaza aid flotilla, IDF, raid)

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