After Israeli raid, Freedom Flotilla aid starts to flow to Gaza
Ships involved in the "Freedom Flotilla" were towed into the Israel port of Ashdod after the Israeli raid Monday. Some of the humanitarian aid is being delivered by Israel to Gaza. But Hamas says it won't accept it until flotilla activists are released from Israeli detention.
Ashdod and Kerem-Shalom, Israel
A day after a botched Israeli raid to stop the Gaza "Freedom Flotilla" from carrying some 700 activists and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the besieged territory, details remain scant about the operation, in which at least nine activists were killed.Skip to next paragraph
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Several ships were towed into the port around noon on Monday. The largest passenger ship, the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara arrived about 6:45 p.m. Monday as the sun was setting on a day that saw at least nine of the approximately 600 activists on board killed in a skirmish with Israeli commandos.
Israel has also barred journalists from accessing the Ashdod port to which the ships, and their passengers, were towed – and even the wounded were being treated at hospitals under heavy military guard.
Israel says its commandos, which rappelled onto the largest Turkish-flag ship from helicopters, faced violent resistance from the activist passengers, and used live fire in self-defense. Footage provided by both passengers and the Israeli military show activists beating Israeli commandos, but human rights groups have come out against what they say was Israel’s “excessive use of force.”
“Israel should have stopped the boats, but not so foolishly,” says Noam Gali, a retired Israeli humanities professor who traveled to Ashdod to observe the scene. “It doesn’t make me sympathize, as an Israeli, with the activists, but we made a mistake.”
Buzzing helicopters as ships unload
Apache helicopter gunships buzzed noisily over the otherwise sleepy Israeli seaport of Ashdod, where dozens of local activists and foreign journalists had descended on the waterfront in anticipation of the seized fleet’s arrival.
“We are trying to express our solidarity with the activists and with the people of Gaza by maintaining a presence at the port,” said Inna Michaeli, one of about 100 left-wing Israeli activists and coordinator with the Coalition of Women for Peace, on Monday. “But we are being stopped by the police and by the army. They have turned our country into a military zone.”