Turkish activists issue photos helpful to Israeli blockade commandos

A group banned by Israel disseminates pictures of IDF soldiers threatened in the Gaza blockade incident

Published June 6, 2010 5:12PM (EDT)

An Islamic charity released photos on Sunday of Israeli commandos wounded in the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound ship.

Several of the images, taken by an unidentified person or people aboard the ship Mavi Marmara, show an Israeli soldier surrounded by people aboard the Turkish-flagged vessel.

The photos were released by the Turkish activist group IHH, which is outlawed in Israel. According to IHH, the Israeli soldiers were hurt while storming the ship in confrontations with activists aboard, and were later returned to other Israeli troops who boarded the ship.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the series of images "shows that our boarding party in fact did face deadly violence from the hardcore Islamist activists on the boat from the fundamentalist IHH movement."

Osman Atalay, a senior IHH official, said the soldiers were in the first group of commandos that boarded the ship. He said the images show activists "intervening" or "tending" to the injured soldiers.

The Israeli crackdown on Monday killed nine activists on a flotilla headed to the blockaded Gaza Strip with hundreds of activists and humanitarian supplies on board. The operation has drawn fierce international condemnation, seriously damaged Israeli ties with Turkey, and brought heavy pressure to lift the 3-year-old closure of Gaza.

Videos released by the army have shown a crowd of men attacking several naval commandos as they landed on a ship from a helicopter, beating the soldiers with clubs and other objects. The army has displayed pictures of knives, slingshots and metal rods confiscated from the crowd, and other video seized from reporters and security cameras on board the ship appear to show a group of young man brandishing clubs and other weapons ahead of the arrival of the soldiers.

Bulent Yildirim, who heads the IHH, has said people on the ship attacked Israeli soldiers "with chairs and iron bars in self-defense."

He has not commented on the use of slingshots but has insisted there were no weapons on board the ship, whose cargo he says was inspected by Turkish authorities.

By Associated Press

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