Activists From Gaza Flotilla Arrive In Turkey

06.03.10 | FL News Team

Pro-Palestinian activists from the aid flotilla that tried to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip this week have arrived in Istanbul. Many of the 466 activists wept as they descended from three Turkish airplanes that carried them from Tel Aviv to Istanbul's Ataturk airport early Thursday. While the majority of them were Turkish, there were also some British, Norwegian, Dutch and Spanish citizens on board the planes. They were greeted as heroes by thousands of supporters who turned out for their arrival a few hours after a massive demonstration in Turkey's capital city. Some in the crowd held Palestinian flags and signs with anti-Israel slogans. Activists injured in Monday's high-seas confrontation with Israeli commandos were taken separately to a military airport in Ankara.

 The Turkish planes that landed in Istanbul also carried the coffins of nine people who died when Israeli commandos stormed one of the aid ships Monday. Israel says they were killed when the commandos opened fire in self-defense after being attacked by people aboard the Mavi Marmara. However, some of the activists landing in Turkey disputed that claim. Officials with the Turkish Islamic charity that organized the aid flotilla also suggested the death toll may have been higher than nine, and accused Israeli forces of destroying evidence and throwing bodies into the Mediterranean Sea.