Passengers tried to grab weapons away from soldiers boarding the Gaza protest flotilla, starting the violence, Army Radio reported Tuesday morning, responding to accusations that Israeli commandos assaulted the ships guns blazing.
Activists aboard the ships repeatedly said they would not respond with violence to the navy's interception of their flotilla.
At least two activistswere killed and dozens more were wounded in clashes as hundreds of Israeli commandos boarded the ships, firing guns and employing gas, Turkish media and Al-Jazeera reported earlier Tuesday morning.
Al-Jazeera reported Turkish leaders called an emergency meeting to discuss responses to the attack at sea. The Israeli ambassador in Turkey was called in to offer explanations, according to a report.
RELATED:Analysis: Why Israel's media defense will be washed away by the flotillaFlotilla delayed by glitches againAnalysis: Israel can learn from its adversaries to harness mediaHaniyeh: Gaza flotilla a triumphReport: Abbas plans to visit Gaza
Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh came on Al-Jazeera to condemn the
“brutal attack” and called on the UN to intervene on the activists' behalf.
Apparently, IDF attempts to prevent broadcasting from the ships were
unable to block the Turkish camera crew on board one of the ships.
The flotilla's change of course earlier in the night to force the
confrontation with the navy to occur in daylight seemed to have
succeeded. The attack began still under cover of dark, but continued in
Earlier tonight, the IDF contacted the boats by radio, clarified that
the Gaza Strip is a closed military zone and offered the sailors two
options: to follow the navy to Ashdod Port or be commandeered by
commandos, according to flotilla organizers.
The initial contact took place about 200 km. off the Gaza Coast.
Flotilla organizers said they detected three Israel Navy ships on the
Passengers on the ships were instructed to don life vests as organizers
warned of potential Israeli violence.
Israel Radio quoted the flotilla’s organizers as saying they did not
expect the navy to meet them so far out at sea.
International activists promised to send more aid ships to the besieged
Gaza Strip late Sunday night, as the Israel Navy moved to intercept a
flotilla of international vessels that were attempting to break the
blockade of the Strip.
Israeli Navy ships set sail earlier Sunday night for what was expected
to be a dramatic showdown out at sea as they try to prevent a flotilla
of international aid ships from breaking the blockade on the Gaza Strip.