Turkish protesters try to storm Israeli consulate in Istanbul

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Turkish protesters try to storm Israeli consulate

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish police blocked dozens of stone-throwing protesters who tried to storm the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul over reports of an Israeli attack on at least one aid ship in international waters on Monday, news channels reported.

CNN-Turk and NTV showed dozens of angry protesters scuffling with Turkish police guarding the consulate in downtown Istanbul.

“Damn Israel,” the protesters shouted.

The Israeli military denied that its forces attacked the boats but said they would enforce the decision to keep them away from Gaza.

Protesters later staged a more peaceful demonstration outside the consulate, holding up Palestinian flags and listening to readings from the Qoran.

Activists also started to gather outside the Israeli ambassador’s residence in the Turkish capital.

Two TV networks reported earlier that Israeli warships attacked the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two and wounding an unknown number of people on board.

“We were not expecting such an operation in international waters,” Omer Faruk Korkmaz, an official of the pro-Islamic aid group, IHH, that led the aid shipment said in Turkey. “Israel has been caught redhanded and the international community will not forgive it.”

Korkmaz said the ship was being escorted to Haifa.

“I was expecting an intervention,” said Murat Mercan, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party. “I was not expecting bloodshed, the use of arms and bullets.”

“Israel is engaged in activity that will extremely hurt its image,” he said.

Turkey summoned the Israeli ambassador to the foreign ministry to discuss the incident, which heightened tensions between Turkey and Israel to new levels.

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