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article imageTurkish autopsies reveal aid activists shot from behind

By Stephanie Dearing     Jun 6, 2010 in World
Turkey released its autopsy results for the nine people killed aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships that was part of the Gaza Aid Flotilla.
There were six ships in the flotilla. Loaded with humanitarian aid supplies, aid activists under the banner of the international organization, Free Gaza, set sail to Gaza with the full intention of ignoring Israel's blockade of Gaza to provide the aid directly to Palestinians living in the Gaza strip.
Israel, however, was not going to let that happen, and the ships were boarded by the Israeli army on May 31st. On the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, Israel's intercession turned deadly violent for the activists. Nine Turkish men died after being shot by the Israelis while the flotilla was in international waters, sparking calls protests around the world, as well as calls for an impartial inquiry. Israel is resisting an international inquiry.
On Friday, the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine released preliminary autopsy results for the nine Turkish men killed in the Israeli raid of the Mavi Marmara. The findings have generated almost as much controversy as has Israel's actions. The results show five of the dead were shot in the back of the head or in the back, reported the Guardian. They were all shot at close range, and most were shot multiple times, with 30 bullets found in the bodies of the nine men. A British citizen who witnessed the raid first hand told the Guardian Israel appeared to have a "shoot-to-kill" policy.
Israel continues to defend its actions, saying the activists provoked the violence. There are numerous videos posted on a You Tube channel by Israel that appear to back up what Israel's claims. However, the AFP reports the Foreign Press Association claims Israel is using stolen videos and photographs, taken from the journalists who had accompanied the flotilla. With Israel's admission it had edited at least of its You Tube postings, there is doubt about the veracity of Israel's claims. Reporters Without Borders said there were at least sixty journalists accompanying the flotilla.
Independent accounts of the traumatic raid of the flotilla by Israel are now coming out. A British Columbia man who took part in the attempt to deliver aid to Gaza, has returned home to Canada after being released from Israeli detention. He claims he was threatened by Israeli guards while he spent three days in Israeli jail, reported CTV BC. He also said 16 people had been killed by Israel, alleging Israel fired on the ships before boarding.
A British-born captain of the "Spirit of Humanity," another boat in the flotilla, told Cypress News of the traumatic boarding of his boat by Israeli soldiers. He said the Israelis humiliated and abused his passengers, shooting an Australian reporter (female) with a stun gun, and shooting a female passenger in the face with a paint ball gun.
A Scottish woman, Theresa McDermott, who was on board a flotilla boat called the Challenger, reported to The Scotsman that she had a "cocked gun pointed at my head."
Jamal Elshayyal, an Al Jazeera reporter, who was on board the Mavi Marmara managed to make a brief report before Israel cut all communications. The raid, according to Elshayyal, did not happen the way Israel claims it did. Just before communication was cut, Elshayyal reported that two people on board the Mavi Marmara had been killed by Israel. The organizers on the ship had told passengers to clear the decks and had hoisted a white flag signalling surrender. Elshayyal later said the ship was fired on from the Israel helicopters prior to being boarded.
Israel contends that the aid mission had been infiltrated by "... several dozen Turkish terrorist activists armed with knives, iron bars, slingshots, metal balls, Molotov cocktails and other weapons," reported Israel National News. Israeli National News also reported that Egypt intends to sue Israel over the fatal raid, although this has not yet been confirmed.
A Turkish newspaper, the Hurriyet Daily News, managed to recover some photographs from a journalist's memory card that had been wiped clean by Israel, publishing those pictures June 6. They show injured Israeli soldiers.
A last ship attempting to deliver humanitarian aid directly to Gaza, the Rachel Corrie, was boarded by Israel on June 5. Israel maintains it offered to deliver the humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza, and when the offer was refused, boarded the Rachel Corrie, arresting eleven passengers and eight crew members, reported the Independent.
On Sunday, in a nod to increasing global condemnation, Israel tried to bolster its defence by releasing documentation showing the aid Israel provided to Gaza in the past year.
The nine Turkish men killed by Israel were repatriated home and buried as heroes. It is believed that up to seven Israelis were injured in the raid.
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