Israel Attacks Gaza Aid Fleet, Two Killed, Many Wounded

Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country’s siege on Gaza, according to a Turkish aid agency being quoted by Turkish media.

At least two people were killed and more than 30 people injured, the report said early on Monday.

The flotilla was attacked when it was 65km off the Gaza coast.

Footage from the flotilla’s lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, appeared to show armed Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and helicopters flying overhead.

Earlier, the Israeli navy had contacted the captain of the Mavi Marmara, asking him to identify himself and say where the ship was headed.

Shortly after, two Israeli naval vessels had flanked the flotilla on either side, but at a distance.

Organisers of the attempted siege break, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, then diverted their ships and slowed down to avoid a confrontation during the night.

They also issued all passengers life jackets and asked them to remain below deck.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and several European legislators, are with the flotilla, aiming to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo.

But Israel has said it will not allow the flotilla to reach the Gaza Strip and vowed to stop the six ships from reaching the coastal Palestinian territory.

The flotilla had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday and aimed to reach Gaza by Monday morning.

Israel said the boats were embarking on "an act of provocation" against the Israeli military, rather than providing aid, and that it had issued warrants to prohibit their entrance to Gaza.

It asserted that the flotilla would be breaking international law by landing in Gaza, a claim the organisers rejected.
 
(Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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