Thu, June 03, 2010
Video > News/Media > Gaza flotilla clash

Israel frees flotilla activists

2010-06-03 07:42:45 GMT2010-06-03 15:42:45 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Israel frees hundreds of foreign activists on board Gaza-bound ships, amid mounting international criticism.

Hundreds of foreign activists are on their way home.

Israel is deporting almost 700 activists from more than 35 countries - detained since Monday after Israel's maritime assault on an aid convoy sailing towards Gaza.

Nine people were killed in the raid, which happened in international waters, provoking global condemnation.

The decision to free the activists - and drop threats of prosecution - was welcomed in Turkey, where residents expressed relief.

"The Turkish nation is overjoyed by Israel's decision. So am I. I would like to congratulate them for doing the right thing, although they are a little late to do it but they have given the right decision."

More than a hundred activists from Jordan, Kuwait, Algeria and Lebanon arrived in Jordan on Wednesday morning to cheering crowds.

An activist from Kuwait gave an account of what he saw when Israel intercepted the fleet on Monday.

"The attack was totally barbaric. They used legitimate and maybe illegitimate weapons. They used rubber bullets and live ammunition, sound bombs and tear gas bombs. They also used batons as they landed to beat those on board and to control the ship."

Meanwhile France's foreign minister criticised the attack after being asked on radio whether a state's military can intervene in international waters without suffering sanctions.

"No. And it's after an investigation has been carried out that one shall have to decide. But in international waters, one does not, nobody has the right to intervene. It was done in an extremely detrimental manner for the very image of Israel."

Israeli officials said they hoped to complete the deportations within 48 hours.

Kirsty Basset, Reuters.

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