Israeli boat raid: Turkey honours 8 slain activists

Israel has rejected demands for international panel to probe its deadly raid.

Updated: Jun 04, 2010, 10:00 AM IST

Istanbul: Mourners hoisted coffins over their heads on Thursday to cheers of "God is great!" as they honoured activists slain during an Israeli commando raid, and the father of the lone American killed praised his teenage son as being a martyr for a just cause.

The joint funeral in Istanbul came as Israel rejected demands for an international panel to investigate its deadly takeover on Monday of six aid ships trying to break Israel`s three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hotly rejected calls to lift the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, insisting the ban prevents missile attacks on Israel.

Some 10,000 people prayed on Thursday outside Istanbul`s Fatih mosque before eight Turkish and Palestinian flag-draped coffins lined up in a row. Eight Turks and American-Turkish dual citizen were honoured, ranging in age from 19 to over 60.

A ninth victim, a Turkish man, was having a separate service on Friday.

"Our friends have been massacred," said Bulent Yildirim, the head of the Islamic charity group IHH that organised the Gaza flotilla, before mourners carried the coffins through the crowd to cars for the burial.

The body of Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old with dual US-Turkish citizenship, was to be flown to his family`s hometown of Kayseri for burial today, the state-run Anatolia News Agency reported.

PTI