Gaza Flotilla Attack: World Unites in Condemnation of Israel's Actions. All Except U.S.Submitted by cactus1010 on Tue, 06/01/2010 - 01:32
In a scene echoed around the world, a woman flashes a victory sign during a protest outside the Belgian foreign affairs building in Brussels. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters
Israel's calculated gamble in sending commandos to raid the Mediterranean flotilla looked likely last night to exact a high price, leaving it increasingly isolated internationally and diplomatically and losing the vital public relations war in the Middle East.
The first and biggest casualty of what appeared to many as a rash act of night time derring-do was Israel's relationship with what used to be its key strategic, regional and Muslim ally, Turkey.
Anger erupted on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, with Israeli flags burned and the Netanyahu government advising Israelis to stay away from Turkey. Thousands took to the streets and marched on the Israeli consulate.
Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, described the Israeli raid as "an act of inhumane state terrorism", while the foreign ministry spoke of "an act of piracy" and of "irreparable damage" to relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv.
Three of the six ships flew the Turkish flag, the convoy was organised by a Turkish charity, and several hundred of those on board the ships were Turks. "We had a very good relationship with Israel, but we have had all kind of difficulties in the past," said a senior diplomat in Ankara, Selim Yenel. "This tops them all."
Protesters scaled the high fences protecting the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, only to be repelled by security forces.
"I cried all night. What Israel did was murder and terrorism," said Mehmet Tas, a computer software student. "Turkey and Europe should unite and attack Israel."
The fury on the streets was mirrored by high-level rage. Ankara recalled its ambassador from Israel. Erdogan rushed home from a trip to Latin America to deal with the fallout. Observers predicted a possible breach in diplomatic relations.
"Israel has targeted innocent civilians," said the foreign ministry in Ankara. "It has shown yet again that it does not care about human lives or peace initiatives."
Noting that the dawn raid occurred in international waters, Ankara hinted at demanding legal redress.
The Turks convened an emergency meeting of generals and security ministers and called off military exercises with Israel, as did Greece.
The United Nations security council was expected to meet last night in New York over the incident.
"I heard the ships were in international water. That is very bad," said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.
The Obama administration, while regretting the death toll, reserved judgment on apportioning blame.
"The United States is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy," said White House spokesman William Burton.