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Deadly flotilla raid could pit Israel against Turkey, roiling region

Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza early Monday morning, killing at least nine people and sparking protests in Arab capitals across the world.

News accounts differed as to the number of dead. Al Jazeera reported that as many as 19 had been killed, while the Jerusalem Post put the number at 15. The Post called the incident a “botched naval raid.”

The attack earned Israel widespread international condemnation, with many countries canceling planned military exercises with Israel and visits from Israeli officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned trip to the United States this week to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with President Obama.

The incident could have especially dire consequences for Israel’s relationship with Turkey, a major power in the region and historically one of the few Muslim countries that have maintained strong ties with Israel. Relations between the two countries had already hit a low point in recent months. Turkey has attempted to reassert its dominance in the Middle East after largely giving up on its attempts to fully integrate into the Euro zone, which have been met with resistance.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attack “state terrorism,” as Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and canceled planned joint military exercises. The Turkish foreign ministry posted a statement on its website Monday condemning the raid in the strongest language yet:

Israel has once again clearly demonstrated that it does not value human lives and peaceful initiatives through targeting innocent civilians. We strongly condemn these inhuman acts of Israel. This grave incident which took place in high seas in gross violation of international law might cause irreversible consequences in our relations.

Besides the initiatives being conducted by our Embassy in Tel Aviv, this unacceptable incident is being strongly protested and explanation is demanded from Israeli Ambassador in Ankara, who has been invited to our Ministry.

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.

At an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, Turkey’s foreign minister said the Israeli raid was “tantamount to banditry and piracy.” Israel’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Daniel Carmon, defended the Israeli military’s actions and said the activists were more interested in provoking Israel than delivering humanitarian aid.

“The answer is clear,” Carmon told Council members. “There [sic] are not peace activists; they were not messengers of goodwill.  They cynically used the guise of humanitarian aid to send a message of hate and to implement violence.”

Turkey had been the unofficial sponsor of the aid flotilla, giving its implicit support to the Turkish humanitarian organization Insani Yardim Vakfi, which sent a large passenger ship and another cargo ship. The Free Gaza organization said Monday that at least six of the dead were Turkish citizens, and thousands of people gathered in Istanbul to protest the Israeli raid, chanting “murderous Israel, you will drown in the blood you shed.”

Greta Berlin, one of the founders of the Free Gaza movement, which helped organize the flotilla, told Need to Know on Friday that she doubted Israel would use force on the ships because it would most likely want to avoid a conflict with Turkey.

“I don’t think they want to have a confrontation with Turkey, that’s the least thing that they want to do,” Berlin said in a telephone interview from Cyprus before the ships set sail. Of Israeli threats to board the ships and detain the activists, she added: “If you’ve seen the Turkish ships, they’re enormous. Not only is the Turkish passenger ship large, the cargo ships are large. So it’s not going to be an easy thing.”



  • Don Gist

    1) Once again thank you for the wonderful memorial in DC. We are devoted viewers and contributors.
    2) We also are devoted viewers to Fox New Channel and will be interested to see if you publish todays FULL interview of Israel’s defense minister wherein he related his DIRECT COMMUNICATION with the sponsoring gov’ts. And, the captain of each vessel to follow their lead into the Israeli port for boarding and inspection for war materials – before allowing ALL HUMANITARIAN materials to proceed.
    3) He was totally refused and the attempted breach of the Israeli blockade continued. The Israeli commando’s were airborne deployed with paint ball rifles and WITHOUT normal heavy duty weaponry. And then the commando’s were overwhelmed and assaulted as you too have seen theimages. ONLY THEN DID THE ACTUAL COMBAT BEGIN!
    4) I have only heard how left leaning PBS is, have never been a viewer, and I will truly be interested in how you report this. I sincerely hope what I have “heard” re left leaning is untrue.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Don Gist, USAFR

    Juan Williams is normally somewhat out of the mainstream and this is my first look at your program.

  • Jo Lee

    Israeli PM Netanyahu has snubbed our America government again by announcing that he is canceling his trip to America in a “timely” fashion.
    There is no excuse for dropping troops in an unprovoked manner onto a ship in international waters.
    The news make me feel ashamed as an American of my government’s “ally”.
    Why should Americans still be paying for aid to Israel, particularly during a recession?

  • Stacy

    Israel must defend their people against Muslims. War with muslims will be reason for nuclear confrontation on near East. Iran should be attacked now before building first nuclear bomb. Time is working against Israel.

  • Stacy

    The past experience with Arabs was no lesson for extremely naive and idiotic Washington. We already forgot it were Lybians who killed 200 Pasengers by bomb over Lockerbee, we forgot that Arabs and money for oil is killing our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Extremely IDIOTIC support of Arabs in the war with Russia costs us lifes. Russian troops killed over 2 millions of Muslims in Afghanistan and do not had the stupid rules of engagement. Our goverment put on trial US soldier for killing Arab civilian. HGow do you know that this civilian doesnt have the Kalashnikov under his robe?If it is Arab and walks and doesnt stop kill him. This was the Russian rule..We help them loose by suppliying Muslims with anti helicopter missiles. Now we pau with lifes for our naive policy.

  • Stacy

    My english is not good. I served in army under Russian generals. Before I was to young to fight against Russia under the German Generals. Now I see USA is not learning from mistakes. My friends fly MIG 15 – the other FockeWulf 190 or Messerschmitt 109. The greatest American was General McAhrthur for suggesting tu use nukes against North Korea. Look in what kind of problems we are now with this North Korean dog eaters.. . And George Patton was ready to destroy Russia in 1945.

  • mark

    Israel is a Lunitic state

  • ejh

    From interviews on May 28th on Al Aksa TV and Al Jazeera TV it’s clear that some members of the flotilla were more interested in martyrdom than in reaching Gaza (see translation at Israel should have known this. Their ill-conceived operation leaves Hamas as the winner in this confrontation, and the peace process the loser.

  • E. Rivers

    So much of this subject reminds me of a line from “The Wizard Of Oz”; “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”. A supposedly peaceful flotilla supposedly for humanitarian aid is supposedly attacked by Israeli commandos. All of this activity revolves around Gaza, a war torn area that is walled off from the media. Well, Need To Know news reporter Sal Gentile, what is going on in Gaza? Are there functioning hospitals? Is there food? Is there water? Can they rebuild their homes? Are they starving? Why can’t we hear or see what’s going on there?

    We can discuss the peripherals – Israel attacking the peacefull flotilla or the flotilla secretly delivering arms. Commandos aiming tear gas canisters at the faces of unarmed humanitarians, putting out eyes. Rabid passengers swinging pipes at unarmed commandos with paint guns, etc. All this is dodging the critical question that I’m not seeing in the American media, “What is going on in Gaza?”.

  • Sam V. Vallathur

    Israel is becoming more agressive because no negative response from International communities.
    Israel has no right to kill those innocent people who are carrying foods and water to suffering
    Gazza residents.

    United inetrnational voices to support an Independent Palastine, then only these kind of
    inhuman activities by Jews community can be stoped. US (our) tax payers money should not be given to support Israel and buy wepon to kill innocent people.

  • frank

    You can add my voice to the “Israel is a Lunitic state” group now. This latest incident will allow all concerned to allow the Israeli Government to further avoid addressing the underlying root cause of all the problems … land.

  • Allen J O

    As an Israeli Jew ,I feel shame of what Israel is committing from war crimes.
    The U.S tax payers should stop supporting Israel.

  • Robert K.D

    If the Palestinians get their rights & establish their country,most of the problems of the world
    will be solved. Free Gaza from Israeli monsters

  • Gedeon Ben Haim

    The U.S policy in the mid-east should not be painted as it is now.
    Don’t support Israel in right & wrong , be fair .
    Israel made lot of mistakes,& having nuclear weapons to threat its neighbors.

  • Lova levi

    The world should stop feeling guilty to the jews holocaust,
    as we see all this Israeli aggression toward peace activists.
    What’s about the Palestinians in Gaza who are being curfewed & seiged along time,
    with nobody feel’s what are they suffering from Israeli policy.
    The world should wake up.

  • J Joman

    Stacy, your hatered to Muslims & Iran don’t gave you the right to judge who should attack Iran
    Iran never been an occupation regime like Israel which stole the land from its real owners-the Palestinians-& never commit those crimes which is done by Israel against humanity.
    Anyway if you learn history a little bit you should know that no occupation lasts forever.

  • Carl Kahozac

    why should we stop Iranian nuclear peace project while not stopping Israeli nuclear weapons?

  • Ron Gad.

    As an Israeli peace activist, I see crimes that committed by our soldiers(IDF) many times they killed Palestinians & foreign peace activists (like Rachael Correy &Tom horndal) and the wall that separated the Palestinians is like a big jail in the world.

  • Jan V D.Keerkof

    The middle-east question affects all the world.
    Stop closing Gaza & stop pressing on Palestinians.
    Israel should listen to the world & stop playing games

  • Dana

    Till when the U.S will support the Israeli tyrany?

  • Ehud Manor

    Why Israel is being uncriticized by the U.S and European Union for its crimes,
    is it the police of the world.why should we always put sanctions on Iran and leaving Israel without
    any punishment?

  • Eldad

    Israel is doing its best to spread unstability in the world especially in the middle east.
    Thats help Israel’s interest cause war between countries is an Israeli game.

  • Orly

    We are sure that Israel is involved in the murder of Rafik Hariri (PM of Lebanon)in the year 2005

  • shimon

    Israel is a Zionist regime ,that is worse than Nazis.Israel is an out-law country & it’s commanders & soldier’s should put in jail for trial..then they should hanged instead of people
    who were suffering from them.