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5.31.2010

activists killed in israeli boat raid

If you've been watching the news, you've heard about the Israeli navy's botched boat raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing nine passengers and provoking international outrage: Israeli commandos storm aid flotilla; 9 killed.
Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn confrontation in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel's international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its 3-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu canceled a much-anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday in a sign of just how gravely Israel viewed the uproar. In Canada, Netanyahu announced he was rushing home but said he had called the American president and agreed to meet again.

President Barack Obama voiced "deep regret" over the raid and "expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances" surrounding the incident.

The activists were headed to Gaza to draw attention to the blockade, which Israel and Egypt imposed after the militant Hamas group seized the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians in 2007.
There have been conflicting accounts of what actually transpired, with Freedom Flotilla activists claiming Israeli commandos opened fire without provocation, and Israel insisting its forces fired in self defense.

Among those aboard the Freedom Flotilla was Korean Brazilian filmmaker Iara Lee, founder of the Caipirinha Foundation, who is working on a feature length documentary about the culture of resistance. Last week, before she left, she wrote a op-ed piece for The Hill: End the blockade in Gaza.

At the moment, there isn't much information about what might have happened to her in the attack, with Brazil's foreign ministry expressing concern over her fate: Brazil summons Israeli envoy over raid. More on this as it develops...