JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip today, killing nine passengers in a botched raid that provoked international outrage and a diplomatic crisis.
Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn confrontation in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel’s international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its 3-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu canceled a much-anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday in a sign of just how gravely Israel viewed the international uproar. In Canada, Netanyahu announced he was rushing home.
Israel said it opened fire after its commandos were attacked by knives, clubs and live fire from two pistols wrested from soldiers after they rappelled from a helicopter to board one of the vessels. Later today, it released a grainy black-and-white video that it said supported its version of events.
Reaction was swift and harsh, with a massive protest in Turkey, Israel’s longtime Muslim ally, which unofficially supported the mission. Ankara announced it would recall its ambassador and call off military exercises with the Jewish state.
Read the full story Tuesday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com.