Flotilla clashes should not derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: Barak (2)

09:20, June 01, 2010      

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Barak said the Israelis had appealed to the organizers prior to the ships setting sail and during the sail, calling upon them to arrive at the southern port of Ashdod to unload their goods for inspection and then transfer them via land to the Gaza Strip.

"All our appeals went unheeded," Barak said, adding that only one ship resorted to violence. "The commandos were attacked while boarding one of the ships. Some were wounded as a result of severe physical violence on part of the protestors."

IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi vehemently defended the action taken by the raiding commandos, saying they initially used crowd dispersal means and resorted to live ammunition only when circumstances aboard the Marmara became life-threatening. "From what I've seen during the night, and based on the initial reports of the soldiers, the violence necessitated a response with firearms in light of the risks to the lives of the troops," Ashkenazi explained.

The claim is strongly denied by the Gaza-aid activists. "There was no fire from our side," the group Free Gaza Movement said in a twitter message, one of the channels it employed to bring attention to the campaign. It added that Israeli commandoes "began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck."

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

Source: Xinhua
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