TURKEY - ISRAEL

Turkish fury over Israeli interception: “We'll all be on the next ship to Gaza"

Ten thousand people have been demonstrating outside the Israeli embassy in Istanbul today, in protest against the IDF interception of Gazan-bound aid ships. One of the protestors there tells us that along with thousands of others, he'll be on the next boat to the Strip. Read more...

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Turkish protestors in Taksim square. Photo: Umit Yilmaz.

Ten thousand people have been demonstrating outside the Israeli embassy in Istanbul today, in protest against the IDF interception of Gazan-bound aid ships. One of the protestors there tells us that along with thousands of others, he'll be on the next boat to the Strip.

The Mavi Mamara, a Turkish ferry and the largest of the fleet saw the most violence following the Israeli interception. In total around 400 of the 600 aid workers and activists aboard the flotilla were Turkish. The nationalities of the ten people reported dead are unknown.

The international reaction to the interception has been one of strong condemnation. Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel and cancelled three planned joint military exercises with Israel.

Umit Yilmaz is an industrial designer from Istanbul who took part in the protest in Taksim square:

People are leaving right now but we'll be back at 9pm. We've been protesting for over four hours so we need to go home for a break. The protest was organised this morning on Facebook and Twitter. We managed to get 10,000 people out here within the space of a few hours!

I have a friend, a Turkish journalist, who was on the boat, so I'm personally very concerned for her safety. We haven't heard anything since the Israelis cut the signal, so for all we know, she could be dead. It's a very sad day here.

We will protest until they release the 600 aid workers, allow the boats to reach Gaza and issue an apology to all the people affected. And we will go further. I wasn't on one of the ships last night, but I know now that I will be on the next one. After what happened last night, there are tens of thousands of people from Italy, France, the UK and Turkey are all ready to go to Gaza on a new boat. We are hoping to set sail in a month.

There is no excuse for what the Israelis did and they know it. The Turkish government doesn't want a war, but there are dead people now. The situation between the two governments is doomed and I can't imagine how hard it will be for us to keep healthy relations with the Israelis."

Below, protestors in Taksim square. Photos uploaded to Twitpic by Umit Yilmaz.