PAUL L. WILLIAMS, PH.D.A statement from the Turkish government promises “unprecedented and incalculable reprisals” against Israel for the Israeli Navy’s seizure of the Marmora, a Turkish vessel, which was leading a fleet of ships through the Gaza blockade yesterday.
The statement has received the support of Hezbollah, an arm of the Iranian government, and Hamas, the Palestinian network.
Such measures will not be confined to diplomatic censure.
Reports from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, state that the government, which remains under the control of the Justice and Democratic Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma, AKP), is planning to continue pounding the Israeli blockade with more flotillas that will be escorted by Turkish warships and fighter jets.
Israel merchant vessels moored outside Ashdodport have been instructed to sail into port and take shelter in case of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip against Ashdod and Ashkelon.
In expectation of an outbreak of war, the Turkish chief of staff General Ilker Basbug has been recalled to Ankara from a visit to Egypt. Greece has since halted its joint exercise with Israel in protest against the naval action.
Israeli warplanes have headed west over the Mediterranean on Monday morning in support of the still ongoing Israeli commando operation aboard the Turkish Marmora, the scene of violent clashes between Israeli troops and the 600 “peace activists,” some of them armed.
The Turkish government, under Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, reported 15 dead aboard the vessel.
Israeli army spokesman, Colonel Avi Beneyahu, called the incident “an act of terror on the high seas.”
Far from being a humanitarian mission, according to Colonel Beneyahu, the flotilla was sponsored personally by the Turkish government to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza and permit arms supplies and terrorist to reach the Gaza Strip in an unrestricted manner.
The Israeli army spokesman said that the Turks aimed at provoking a widely publicized international incident with fatalities in order to show Israel using strong-arm tactics against unarmed peaceniks.
He further maintained that the Turkish government refused to heed warnings that the vessels would be prevented from entering Gaza Port and rejected Israeli offers to ferry their aid cargo overland to the Gaza Strip.
An estimated 19 activists were killed battling with Israeli troops, and dozens more were injured. Ten Israeli soldiers were wounded, two critically.
According to the Israelis, passengers, armed with knives and iron bars, mobbed the Israeli commandos as soon as they landed on the deck of the Marmara. One passenger allegedly snatched from a sidearm from an Israeli soldier and proceeded to fire at the commandos.
In the midst of mounting tensions, the Arab League Council has called for an emergency meeting today to demand Egypt to end its joint embargo with Israel on Gaza.
Egypt will face pressure to end its joint embargo on Gaza with Israel at the Arab League Council meeting urgently Tuesday, June 1. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas demanded the session.
Demonstrations against Israel continue to rage in Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Greece.