Israeli commandos have stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid run to the blockaded Gaza Strip, leaving at least ten people dead.
Reports early on Monday conflicted over what had happened but some said as many as 16 people could have died and up to 30 people may have been wounded in the raid. Israel says it regrets the deaths, which it placed at ten.
Israeli security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said activists attacked the Israeli forces with knives, iron rods and “live fire” as they boarded the boats. The activists say they were unarmed.
The flotilla, which includes three cargo ships and three passenger ships, is trying to draw attention to Israel's blockade of Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. The boats are carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials. The activists said they also were carrying hundreds of electric-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.
This is the ninth time that the Free Gaza movement, an international group of pro-Palestinian activists, has tried to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza since August 2008. Israel has let ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009.
Turkey condemned the attacks, saying Israel would have to suffer the consequences. There were no Swiss on the ships.
swissinfo.ch and agencies