Israeli navy clashes with Gaza-bound aid flotilla activists

09:04, June 01, 2010      

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An Israeli naval vessel patrols near the port of Ashdod, Israel, May 31, 2010. Clash happened on Monday morning between an international Gaza aid flotilla and Israeli navy, causing at least 19 casualties, Israeli military confirmed. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu) Clash happened on Monday morning between a Gaza-bound international aid flotilla and Israeli naval troops, causing nine activists killed and numerous injured.

The six-vessel flotilla, aiming at focusing world attention on the plight of the Gazans, consists of more than 10,000 tons of aid, stationery, medical supplies and construction materials as well as hundreds of peace activists from over 40 countries.

The Gaza aid ships set sail on Sunday from the Mediterranean international waters near Cyprus and headed to the besieged territory amid tension due to Israel's threats to block the convoy.

Israeli navy on Sunday night sighted the pro-Palestinian " Freedom Flotilla" bound for the Gaza Strip and ordered the convoy to dock at Ashdod harbor, unveiling the showdown between Israel and peace activists.

Three missile boats left Haifa naval base earlier Sunday night, planning to intercept the convoy. Troops aboard the aid flotilla and clashed with the activists after they ignored Israeli orders to turn back.

An earlier Twitter message from the onboard campaigners said that at about 4:30 a.m. Monday, Israeli commandos dropped from helicopter onto deck of a Turkish ship, immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians.

Live image from the flotilla on the Twitter of the human right organization Free Gaza Movement this morning shows that Israeli soldiers descending from a helicopter and a number of speedboats aboard one of the ships in night hours. Activists wearing life vests were treating what appeared to be injuries for unknown reasons.

All of the injured, including Israeli naval soldiers and peace activists onboard, were currently evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

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