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Ayalon: Flotilla linked to al Qaida
By TOVAH LAZAROFF, YAAKOV LAPPIN AND JPOST.COM STA
31/05/2010
Deputy FM makes 1st official Israeli response; PM updated in Canada.
 
The flotilla of ships on its way to Gaza "was an armada of hate and violence," charged Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a Jerusalem press conference on Monday morning. "It was a premeditated and outrageous provocation" and its organizers had ties to global Jihad, al Qaida and Hamas, said Ayalon.

"Their intent was violent, their methods were violent and their results were unfortunately violent," Ayalon said.


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"Israel regrets the loss of life and did everything it could to avoid this outcome," Ayalon stressed, adding that Israel had offered to transport the humanitarian cargo on board the ship to Gaza.

"The organizers on the ship did not heed the calls of our forces this morning to peacefully follow them and bring a peaceful closure to this event," said Ayalon, iterating that the successful arrival of the flotilla in Gaza would have created "a corridor of arms smuggling."

The Foreign Ministry has convened a noon meeting of all ambassadors in the country. The Turkish ambassador was requested to arrive half-an-hour early for a private conversation.

Political echelons, security and police hurried to respond on Monday to deadly clashes that took place earlier in the day between Navy commandos and members of a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza.

Kadima chair Tzipi Livni called Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to offer her help in dealing with the diplomatic crisis Israel was likely to face in the aftermath of the violent incident.
Livni's party mate Kadima Council head Haim Ramon attacked Netanyahu's government for mishandling the Gaza flotilla affair.

In Canada, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was getting constant updates on the clashes, a foreign ministry spokesman told Army Radio. Netanyahu is in Canada as part of a trip that has him slated to meet Tuesday with US President Barack Obama.

The IDF and police were preparing for the possibility of demonstrations and violence among Palestinians as well as Israeli-Arabs on Monday, amid reports of up to 15 dead.

Northern District police chief Cmdr. Shimon Koren completed an evaluation of the security situation in the North on Monday morning, and ordered a high state of alert and instructed police officers to be ready "for the possibility of any scenario or attempt to cause a disturbance."

He called for restraint in the northern district, home to a large number of Arab Israelis.

Also Monday morning, Israeli NGO Gush Shalom was set to demonstrate in support of the "Free Gaza" convoy, according to an email circulated by the group.

The demonstrators intend to converge outside the center in Ashdod where the detained international aid activists are supposed to be held.

Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Yittzhak Aharonovitch cancelled a planned appearance at an anti-violence march in Lod scheduled for Monday. The march will go ahead as planned.
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