ISTANBUL — Mourners in Istanbul hoisted coffins Thursday to cheers of "God is great!" as they honored activists slain during Monday's Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship, and the father of the lone American killed praised his teenage son as being a martyr for a just cause.RELATED:Erdogan: Israel to lose closest ally
Some 10,000 people prayed Thursday outside Istanbul's Fatih mosque before eight Turkish and Palestinian flag-draped coffins lined up in a row in a traditional service for the dead. Eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin were honored, ranging in age from over 60 to 19. A ninth victim, a Turkish man, was having a service on Friday.
Istanbul welcomes returning activistsFlotilla aid refused by Hamas
The funeral occurred as relations between Turkey and Israel worsen. Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Thursday that, "Turkey will never forgive Israel for the killing of Turkish citizens.
"Relations between Turkey and Israel will never be as they were," Gul said in a television broadcast. "Israel has made one of the most glaring mistakes in its history, for which it will repent."
Bulent Yildirim, the head of the
Islamic charity group IHH
that organized the Gaza flotilla said "Our friends have been massacred," before
mourners carried the coffins through the crowd to cars to be taken for
The body of Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old with dual
U.S.-Turkish citizenship, was to be flown to his family's hometown of
Kayseri for burial Thursday, the state-run Anatolia News Agency
His father told Anatolia he identified Furkan in the
morgue and his son had been shot through the forehead. Still, he said,
the family was not sad because they believed Furkan had died with honor.
feel my son has been blessed with heaven," he said. "I am hoping to be a
father worthy of my son."
Before dawn, thousands flooded
Istanbul's main Taksim Square to welcome home hundreds of
pro-Palestinian activists from the aid boats who had been expelled. Israel,
which has faced strong international criticism for the botched military
operation, decided not to prosecute the activists in an effort to limit