Israeli commandos surround convoy, fire live ammunition upon Mavi Marmara, with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard.
Raw video from the ship during the assault below.
10 PM CST: Solidarity activists aboard one of six relief vessels traveling to Gaza with humanitarian report that they have been attacked by Israeli forces, with three of their human rights volunteers killed and roughly 30 injured. The assault comes in the wake of the flotilla being surrounded earlier today by three Israeli warships in international waters, roughly 70 miles away from the Israeli coast. The Flotilla moved further west, deeper into international waters to avoid any conflict with Israeli navy vessels, but had been concerned all night that Israeli forces would send small inflatable military boats towards the flotilla and attempt to attack and board the humanitarian vessels.
Those fears have apparently been realized, with people aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard, reporting that they have been attacked. At least three passengers have been killed and dozens more wounded. Israeli commandos apparently rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara, whose passengers range in age from 88 to a year old and include Christians, Muslims and Jews seeking to end the blockade. Midwest U.S. activists have been unable to reach Chicagoan Fatima Mohammadi, traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara.
Live video from the flotilla shows Israeli naval commando vessels pulling alongside the aid ships, and what sounds like gunfire can be heard in the background. No-one on the aid ships is carrying any kinds of weapons, including for defense against a feared Israeli attack in international waters.
Hundreds of elected officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists – including a Nobel laureate and many European legislators – are with the flotilla, traveling by sea to Gaza to break Israel’s blockade of the tiny strip of land. Foreign news correspondents and independent journalists are traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard which is also running its own press operation reachable at the satellite number +8821636619168. A total of six ships, including two cargo ships and other passenger vehicles, are carrying thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to the beseiged region, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.
Israel has marshalled its most lethal military vessels to try to stop the humanitarian marine convoy, and at around 2:20 pm Central Standard Time (US) the first reports of unmanned drone planes buzzing the vessels was received from convoy passengers.
Two boats in the aid flotilla, one currently traveling with the convoy to Gaza and another in port in Cyprus for repairs, are flagged and registered in the United States. The ships are U.S. territory under maritime law, and the U.S. government is required to intervene if this “U.S. property” is attacked or illegally confiscated by Israeli authorities — a tactic Israel has threatened and deployed in the past. Israel has a long history of attacking ships whose missions are deemed undesirable. In December 2008, it rammed the Dignity, carrying medical and humanitarian aid, doctors, human rights workers and a former U.S. congresswoman, without warning in international waters.
Israel intensified its 2006 blockade after attacking the area in a weeks-long assault that ended in January 2009, killing more than 1,400 and leaving thousands more homeless and reducing huge swaths of housing to rubble. The blockade has created mass unemployment and extreme poverty, leaving four out of five Gazans — half of whom are children — dependent on humanitarian aid.
The Freedom Flotilla carries more than 10,000 tons of relief and developmental aid to Gaza, along with roughly 700 participants from more than 30 countries, among them volunteers from South Africa, Algeria, Turkey, Macedonia, Pakistan, Yemin, Kosovo, the UK and US and Kuwait – and an exiled former Archbishop of Jerusalem who currently lives in the Vatican. The cargo includes prefabricated homes and playgrounds, cement and other home-building supplies, medical devices and medications, textiles and food, in defiance of Israel’s siege on Gaza, which restricts the entry of all materials, including food and medicine. The flotilla’s supplies were gathered by a coalition of international civil society and human rights organizations to be sent directly to the people of Gaza by sea, using only international waters and the coastal waters immediately off of Gaza for passage. The flotilla is expected to arrive in Gaza as early as today.
Participants on board speak languages that include English, Turkish, Kurdish, over ten dialects of Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Portugeuse, French, Malaysian, Indonesian, Norweigen, Swedish, Urdu, Punjabi, Farsi, Hindi, German, Flemish, Greek, Catalon, Russian, Bosnian, Chechen, Macedonian and Albanian. Reporters on board hail from locations that include the United Kingdom, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Kuwait, South Africa, Pakistan, Jordan, the Persian Gulf and across the Arab world.
- Kevin Clark, Free Gaza Movement/Midwest: FGMinchicago @aol.com, cell 312-259-4380
- Fatima Mohammadi, Chicagoan on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla: Satellite phone: +8821636619168; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Huwaida Arraf on board the Challenger: 0088 216 5207 2093
- Ewa Jasciewica on board the Challenger: 0088 163 184 7926
- Bianca Shana’a, Free Gaza Movement, Paris: 00336 63 59 20 28
- Greta Berlin, Free Gaza Movement: 00 357 99 18 72 75
- Mary Hughes: 00 357 96 38 38 09
Raw video from the Mavi Marmara as Israeli commandoes stormed the ship.
Updates (Newest at the top.)
- Irish Times: Foreign Minister Martin accuses Israel of ‘kidnapping’ Irish citizens
- AP: Israel Boat Raid Sparks International Outcry
- Robert Naimen: Gaza Freedom Flotilla Shows Awesome Power of Nonviolent Resistance
- Press TV: South Africa censures Israel
- CNN: Official: As many as 9 Americans on Gaza relief flotilla
- PBS Newshour: Free Gaza Calls for ‘Open, Independent’ Investigation Into Deadly Flotilla Raid
- SUN: Brits on board stormed ships
- Desmond Tutu: Aid ship raid is inexcusable
- Global BC: B.C. activist on aid flotilla stormed by Israeli navy commandos
- Guardian: Gaza Freedom flotilla carried world-renowned names and veteran activists
- Haaretz: UN Security Council members urge Israel to lift Gaza siege
- CTV: Nine dead after Israeli forces clash with aid flotilla
- AP: Bloody Israeli raid on flotilla sparks crisis
- EI: The Gaza flotilla and the ironies of history
- Khaleej Times: Where is Free Gaza leader? (Adam Shapiro on his last phone conversation with Huwaida Arraf before Israeli assault.)
- Paul Jay: Israeli attack on Gaza aid ship violates international law
- Nobel-winning Elders deplore Gaza flotilla attack
- Marwan Bishara: Israel defending the indefensible
- Democracy Now: At Least 15 Dead After Israel Attacks Gaza-Bound Aid Flotilla [podcast]http://c4.libsyn.com/media/18778/wx2010-0531_gaza-flotilla-adam-shapiro.mp3[/podcast]
- Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statement on the Attack: “Whatsoever the motives might be, such actions against civilians who are involved only in peaceful activities cannot be accepted. Israel will have to bear the consequences of these actions which constitute a violation of international law.”
- Victoria resident onboard Gaza-bound ships intercepted by Israeli Navy; fatalities reported
- ABC Australia: 10 killed as Israeli forces storm aid ship
- LA Times: Israel seizes vessel, protesters say
- Aljazeera reporter Waleed al-Omari says Israeli attack on #flotilla is ONGOING and casualties may be rising.
- Al Jazeera English: Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet; “up to 16 people were killed”
- Al Jazeera Arabic reports gunfire still ongoing onboard the flotilla.
- Israeli navy reportedly firing on Palestinian fishing boats near Gaza port.
- FGM lawyer in Israel says 10 people potentially dead.
- George Galloway: “one of the most dastardly attacks on humanitarian aid workers in recent times.”
- NY Times: Israel Intercepts Gaza Flotilla; Violence Reported
- Jamal Dajani has a screen grab of an Israeli soldier on the Mavi Marmara.
- Aljazeera: Israel hospitals told to prepare to receive casualties, but unclear if for flotilla passengers or Israel soldiers.
- Press TV: Gaza aid flotilla attacked, two killed
- Free Gaza Movement media activist reports: “Mark Regev’s office hung up on me. State Department says they ‘are looking into it.'”
- Ynet runs report from Turkish TV.
- From AP:
Two TV networks are reporting that Israeli warships have attacked the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two and wounding an unknown number of people on board.
The Israeli military refused to comment on the report.
The al-Jazeera satellite channel reported by telephone early Monday from the Turkish ship leading the flotilla that Israeli navy forces fired at the ship and boarded it, wounding the captain. The Turkish NTV network also reported an Israeli takeover with gunfire and casualties.
The al-Jazeera broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, “Everybody shut up!”
- Screen grab from live feed appears to show blood on a life vest:
- Scattered reports that EUropean Parliament members may be among the wounded.
- Haaretz: Several casualties in clash between Gaza aid flotilla, Israel Navy
- Al Jazeera English is reporting based on Turkish TV that 2 people are dead, more than 30 injured.
- Ali Abunimeh posted screen grabs of Israelis landing on the boat: http://aliabunimah.posterous.com/pictures-israeli-helicopters-and-gunboat-atta
- Footage shows Israeli forces descending to the boat from helicopters while in international waters. Shooting can be heard on the broadcast feed.