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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the international Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Monday, May 31, 2010.
At least 19 peace activists killed as Israeli commandos attack the Freedom Flotilla en route to Gaza to break the siege, this and more, coming up, stay tuned.
At least 19 people were killed and around 50 were wounded when an Israeli commando force forcefully boarded the boats and randomly opened fire at the peace activists who were en route to the Gaza Strip. The activists were hoping to deliver much needed supplies to the besieged Gaza residents, including construction material, medical supplies, in addition to 100 pre-manufactured houses, in addition to 500 electric wheel chairs.
The Israeli military claimed their forces were attacked first, an allegation strongly denied by the activists onboard.
The attack started after the army forcefully boarded the Turkish-flagged boat and opened fire at the passengers before hundreds of commandos attacked all ships at once and assumed control over them, and trailed them to Ashdod port, however their fate remains unknown.
Among the wounded were Sheikh Raed Salah head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who suffered serious wounds, and head of the Lebanese delegation, Hani Suleiman, in addition to the Captain of the “Marmara” Turkish Ship, and a Turkish Legislator.
Media sources reported that the Greek captain of the boat “8000”, was wounded and refused to receive medical aid in Israel and demanded to be transported to his country.
In the after math of the attack, Israel beefed up its police in the Arab town of Um El-Fahem, the hometown of Sheikh Raed Salah.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office canceled his visit to the United States, where he was supposed to meet with the U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. In the meantime, the Turkish Prime Minister Rajab Tayyeb Erdogan, whose country has the highest losses among the victims, interrupted his visit to Latin America and headed back to his country.
Erdogan is expected to come up with harsh statements against Israel once he is back, as his initial comment described the attack as state terrorism, and Turkey called the Israeli ambassador, and delivered a letter of condemnation to Israel, and canceled three military joint drills with Israel, and recalled their envoy in Tel Aviv.
Thousands of people in Turkey protested in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul and the Embassy in Ankara demanding there government to severe the diplomatic relations with Israel.
On the other hand, the American and French reactions were very mild. While Washington expressed sorrow for the victims, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said he is sorry for this “disproportionate use of force.”
In Palestine, people took to the streets in several areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to protest the Israeli attack on the peace activists and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a three-day mourning in the country.
A number of European countries, including Greece, Spain, Sweden called the Israeli ambassador to express their condemnation to the Israeli raid.
In other news, a Palestinian woman died of wounds suffered when a settler hit her with his car Sunday, Palestinian medical sources in Hebron reported.
Fatima Sabarna, 55, was seriously injured after the car hit her. The settler fled the scene.
Local sources reported that the woman and her husband were walking near the Beit Ummar Graveyard on the Hebron-Jerusalem road when they were rammed by the settler.
Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, you have been listening to Palestine Today, from the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org. For constant update, please visit our website. This report has been brought to you by George Rishmawi.