Israel: Protesters denounce attack


About 2000 demonstrators gathered outside Israel’s Ministry of Defense late May 31 to protest the military's violent raid on an aid flotilla that attempted to break the country’s years-long siege on the Gaza Strip.

Haggai Matar, a member of the Coalition Against the Siege, told Ma’an news the protests were an expression of anger and shock about the Israeli navy raid that left at least 10 activists dead and dozens hurt a day earlier.

“[The flotilla] has been demonised from the get-go”, Matar told Ma'an. “It was portrayed as illegitimate Turkish involvement in our politics or as provocation or, we’ve heard today more than ever before, that the flotilla was organised by Hezbollah and Hamas and Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad ...

“But we never thought we’d end up with such a terrible act as the shooting and killing of so many civilians.”

The flotilla, organised by the Free Gaza Movement, an international initiative that has sent several boats to Gaza in the past, consisted of six ships, 700 activists, and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid.

Uri Avnery, the founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement and a former Knesset (Israeli parliament) member, said: “Many Israeli citizens are shocked by this crime. It was a massacre committed in international waters, and we demand a full and independent investigation.”

Knesset member Dov Khenin from the left-wing Hadash party, which represents both Arab and Jewish citizens, said: “It’s important to be here today to demonstrate that there is a different voice in Israel. The activities of the government don't reflect all of us.“

Khenin said Israel’s current administration is extremely right wing and is intent on making war.

[Abridged from]