May 31, 2010

Israeli troops kill 16 in attack on humanitarian aid ships

by David Masters

As many as 16 human rights activists were shot dead by masked Israeli commandos who stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid to the blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Dozens more were injured as troops intercepted the convey of ships early this morning.

The convoy, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, was carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid. It was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.

Commandos rappelled from helicopters onto the ships before dawn.

Greta Berlin, spokesperson for the flotilla, said she had been told of ten fatalities to human rights activists, and accused Israeli troops of indiscriminately firing at “unarmed civilians”.

The Israeli Army Radio said up to 16 people had been killed in the operation.

The Israeli military said four soldiers were injured during the operation, two of the moderately.

It said troops opened fire after “demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs”.

However, Free Gaza Movement, which organised the convoy, said the commandos opened fire as soon as they landed aboard the ships.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and declared a three-day state of mourning.

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