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Turkey demands international panel probe in Gaza boat deaths

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - 21:56

Ankara: Turkey on Wednesday called for an
international commission to investigate the deaths on the Gaza
aid ship flotilla, and its foreign minister said Israel has
agreed to release all Turks involved in clash.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said 210 Turks were
scheduled to be flown home from Israel on Turkish planes later
today. He said Israel also assured Turkey it would not put any
Turkish protesters on trial.
"We have clearly stated that we would review our ties
with Israel if all Turks not released by the end of the day,"
Davutoglu said.

"All citizens of foreign countries will be set free."

Israel`s bloody raid on a flotilla of aid ships that
carried about 400 Turks dramatically escalated tensions with
Turkey. The attack killed nine people, including at least four
Turks. Turkey withdrew its ambassador and scrapped war games
with Israel as a result.

"No one has the right to try people who were kidnapped in
international waters," Davutoglu told a news conference.
There was no way to immediately reconcile the different
numbers of Turks said to be involved in the Gaza operation.

The foreign minister, however, said two Turkish citizens
who were in serious condition will remain in Israeli hospitals
with a Turkish doctor.

"We will not leave them to the mercy of anyone,"
Davutoglu said.

Turkey to review all ties with Israel

Turkey`s parliament called on the
government on Wednesday to review all ties with Israel as the country
prepared a huge welcome home for hundreds of Turks detained
after Israel`s bloody raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

In Israel, all of the nearly 700 activists from the aid
ships were at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, waiting to be
deported, airport officials said.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Israel decided not
to prosecute any of them, writing in an order today that
"keeping them here would do more damage to the country`s vital
interests than good."

Israel has come under harsh international condemnation
after its commandos stormed a six-ship aid flotilla Monday in
international waters, setting off clashes that killed nine
activists and wounded dozens.

The activists were trying to break the three-year-old
Israeli and Egyptian naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Turkish and Greek protesters were to fly home on special
planes sent by their respective governments, while others from
the nearly 20 nationalities on the ships were traveling home
on commercial flights.

A big homecoming rally to celebrate the activists was
being held later today in Istanbul`s main square.

The commando raid has seriously strained ties between
Israel and Turkey. Turkey withdrew its ambassador, scrapped
war games with Israel and demanded a UN Security Council
meeting on the clash as a result.

Hundreds of Turks protested Israel`s commando raid for a
third day today and Israeli diplomats` families began packing
to leave following orders from the Israeli government.

The Turkish Parliament in Ankara held a heated debate on
whether to impose military and economic sanctions on Israel.
But lawmakers from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan`s
ruling Justice and Development Party objected to the measures,
apparently trying to avoid aggravating the situation.


First Published: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - 21:56

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