Furkan Dogan was struck by five bullets shortly before dawn on Monday while atop the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara ship, according to friends who were on board at the time of the Israeli raid and attended the funeral for eight of the nine Turks who died.
The website of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who called the Israeli raid a "bloody massacre" and threatened to sever ties with Israel – listed Mr. Dogan's nationality as American. A State Department spokesman confirmed a dual US-Turkish citizen was killed and said the embassy in Turkey had offered consular services to the family.
Dogan’s death and his US citizenship were spoken of at the funeral.
“Furkan was my friend,” said Ali Yunusoalu, who went with Dogan for pre-dawn prayers on the top deck of the Mavi Marmar on Monday. Israeli naval boats soon approached the ship, he said, and then commandos dropped from helicopters.
“The soldiers started shooting and bombing” with bullets and percussion grenades, said Mr. Yunusoalu. “It was a big sound – you can’t hear a thing because of the noise.”
Dogan ran “everywhere” before he was killed, recalled Yunusoalu. “We were very afraid.”
Dogan's father told the state-run Anatolia News Agency that his son had been shot in the forehead, but that the family took comfort believing that Furkan had died with honor, reports the Associated Press.
"I feel my son has been blessed with heaven," said the father, who was not named by AP. "I am hoping to be a father worthy of my son."
Though Dogan’s ongoing American ties appear to be limited, the death of a US citizen will make it harder for the Obama administration to side-step a diplomatic confrontation with Israel.
So far, the US public and government response has been more muted than those in Europe or the Middle East, with the administration caught between a powerful pro-Israel constituency at home, on the one hand, and growing anger among other allies, on the other.
But the death of a US citizen by violence usually prompts a response from the federal government and politicians.
After American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer as she tried to stop it from destroying a Palestinian home in Gaza in 2003, senior US officials demanded a full investigation of the incident.
The results of the Israeli investigation into her death was that it was accidental, which drew charges of a whitewash from her supporters and her family, which this year sued the Israeli military over the incident. An Irish-owned humanitarian boat that is steaming towards Gaza and could challenge Israel’s blockade as soon as Saturday was named in her honor: the MV Rachel Corrie.
Dogan was not the only American casualty of Monday’s events. Shortly after Israel's raid on the flotilla, US college student Emily Henochowicz was struck by an Israeli tear gas canister and lost her eye while attending a pro-Palestinian protest at the Kalandia crossing, along the fence Israel erected between Jerusalem and the West Bank.
How they died?
Turkish media reported that initial examinations of the dead Turkish activists show they all had been killed by bullets, some fired at close range. A funeral for the ninth Turkish citizen killed was due on Friday.
Dogan’s apparent dual citizenship was not the only American connection weighing on some of several thousands mourners at the service at Istanbul’s Fatih mosque, where eight coffins draped with Turkish and Palestinian flags were lifted overhead to chants of “God is great!”
A few Turks also shouted: “Murderous United States of America.”
“No thanks to the Americans for supplying all arms to [the Israelis],” said Sakir Yildirim, a UK-Turkish dual national who was also on the Mavi Marmara ship. He said he witnessed three or four deaths of activists within a few yards of him – one of the men shot in the forehead when the red light of a laser rifle sight alighted there. “All that stuff is American made.”
Staff writer Dan Murphy contributed from Boston.