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Terrorism & Security

Israel blames Gaza flotilla deaths on activists

Israel blamed the violence on the mostly Turkish and European activists aboard the Gaza flotilla, saying its naval troops were attacked with knives, clubs, and gunfire when they boarded some of the ships.

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The Times also reports that a video feed from the confrontation appears to show activists beating the Israeli commandos as they roped onto the ship from helicopters.

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The killings have provoked widespread condemnation outside Israel.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after its foreign ministry released a statement calling the confrontation a “gross breach of international law,” and warning it might have “irrevocable consequences” for Turkish-Israeli relations, according to Al Jazeera.

The Palestinian leadership issued harsh condemnations, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calling it a “massacre,” according to Ha’aretz.

Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, called an emergency meeting of the organization for Tuesday and condemned Israel for its acts of “terrorism and piracy.” The response from European nations was more reserved, though still negative.

Meanwhile, opinion pieces and editorials in Israeli newspapers skewered the Israeli actions, and even columnists supportive of the Gaza siege and Israel’s right to raid the flotilla bemoaned the international relations disaster the killings will cause.

An opinion piece in Israeli center-left newspaper Ha’aretz called Israeli policy makers a “ship of fools.”

Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won't even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing. Again we will be portrayed not only as the ones that have blocked assistance, but also as fools who do everything to even further undermine our own standing. If that was one of the goals of the peace flotilla's organizers, they won big yesterday.

An opinion piece in the conservative Jerusalem Post called the flotilla “just another chapter in an international campaign to chip away at Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself,” but criticized the way Israel handled its interception. While the public relations battle was likely lost from the beginning, Israel could have taken steps to avoid such an ending.

Meanwhile, Ma’an reports that clashes broke between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem as Palestinians protested the killings. Rallies were also held in Palestinian villages in Israel and in Gaza, where Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a strike.

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