Monday: Pro-Palestinian Activists Killed as Israel Stops Aid Flotilla; Oil Could Spill Until August
Injured pro-Palestinian activist evacuated from flotilla. Photo by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images
At least 10 pro-Palestinian activists carrying aid supplies bound for the Gaza Strip were killed Monday when an Israeli naval ship intercepted their flotilla bound for the blockaded region, according to the Israeli army. Dozens of activists were wounded.
The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement the activists were killed when Israeli naval personnel boarded the six ships after the ships refused to dock in Israel. The military said the naval personnel were attacked with “live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.” The military then “employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.”
The ships, sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement and a Turkish group called Insani Yardim Vakfi, carried more then 600 activists, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire of Northern Ireland and Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein, 85.
International condemnation was swift. Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel and canceled three joint military exercises Monday. Protesters in Turkey tried to storm the Israeli consulate there and then marched to Istanbul’s main square.
“Regardless of any reasoning, such actions against civilians engaged in only peaceful activities are unacceptable,” a statement on the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Web site said Monday. “Israel will be required to face the consequences of this act that involves violation of the international law.”
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that approximately 400 of the 581 passengers on the main ship in the flotilla were Turks.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded an investigation. “I am shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on boats carrying supplies for Gaza,” he said.
And the Obama administration expressed concern about the attack. White House spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement that the United States “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained” in the incident. It comes a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned visit to Washington.
Oil Could Spill Until August, Officials Say
The company has moved on to its next strategy — attempting to contain most of the spill with a new type of containment dome while continuing to work on drilling relief wells. But those wells won’t be complete until at least August.
“We are prepared for the worst,” White House Energy and Climate adviser Carol Browner said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “We have been prepared from the beginning.”
Tropical Storm in Central America Kills at Least 96
At least 96 people were killed in floods and landslides in Guatemala and El Salvador, as tropical storm Agatha — the first named storm of the eastern Pacific storm season — made landfall over the weekend.
Obama, Biden to Pay Respects to War Dead on Memorial Day
President Obama is scheduled to speak Monday at the Abraham Lincoln Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., south of Chicago, in observance of Memorial Day. Vice President Joe Biden will speak at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The president’s decision to skip the ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery has engendered some controversy from his critics, although other commentators have pointed out that other presidents, including George H.W. Bush, have marked the day elsewhere.