Monday, May 31, 2010
Death toll from Gaza aid attack hits 20
The death toll from the Israeli navy's takeover of a Gaza aid convoy has risen to 20 while Israel carefully censors reports on the casualties from the attack.
Gaza Freedom Flotilla came under fire early on Monday by Israeli navy forces in international waters more than 150km (90 miles) off the coast of Gaza.
The six-ship aid fleet was soon stormed by commandos descending from helicopters.
At least 20 people were killed in the takeover of the Gaza aid convoy, al-Aqsa TV channel reported, saying that more than 50 people, including leader of the Palestinian Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah, were wounded in the attack.
The news trickled through the Israeli military censorship which has sought to block the reporting of any information about the casualties.
A report on the Israeli radio said the censorship was aimed at covering up the number of casualties brought to Israeli hospitals for treatment.
Meanwhile, Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expressed regret for the deaths aboard the Gaza aid ships.
"The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities," he told Israel's Army Radio.
The comments come as the first official acknowledgement by Tel Aviv that the attack had turned fatal.
Israel had initially declined to comment on the reports of casualties from the takeover of the aid ships.