Turkey mourns flotilla dead

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Funerals and prayers for nine activists, who died in Israel's Gaza flotilla raid, were held in Istanbul on Thursday.

Tens of thousands attended the funeral of the nine Turkish nationals, including one teen of dual U.S.-Turkish citizenship. The coffins were draped in Turkish and Palestinian flags. There was widespread anger from those attending. Released activists arrived to their home countries yesterday and today.

The Turkish President Abdullah Gül said that Turkey would act calmly and said;

Cquote1.svg Turkey will never forget such an attack on its ships and its people in international waters. The relations between Israel and Turkey will never be the same again, unless Israel apologises. Cquote2.svg

The youngest of the nine activists killed, a 19-year-old high school student Furkan Dogan, was shot in the head and chest. He was born in Troy New York, but moved to Turkey when he was two. He will be buried in his family's hometown of Kayseri in central Turkey on Friday. A United States State Department spokesman said it would probe the death of the Turkish-American killed, but said the FBI were not involved "at this point."

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that soldiers were acting in self-defence. He said the activists were not peace activists but "violent supporters of terrorism". Israel has stated that of the 7 soldiers wounded during the assault, 2 were shot with weapons wrestled from Israeli forces. But Swedish activist Mattias Gardell scoffed at such statements, replying, "the Israelis started shooting first. We had no weapons, the Israelis had weapons".

Abdullah Gül said Israel committed "one of the biggest mistakes ever in its history," and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Israel's actions "a historic mistake." The leader of the Islamic charity IHH spoke to the crowd, saying, "The whole world supports us. We will shake the foundations of Zionism".

The activists had attempted to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie arriving some time this weekend, will be the next ship to challenge the blockade.


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