06/03/2010, 00.00
TURKEY - ISRAEL
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Heroes welcome for activists deported from Israel and bodies of those killed on ships to Gaza

Turkey’s deputy prime minister accuses Israel of "piracy." Thousands of relatives and friends cry: "Turkey is proud of you!" And "Down with Israel". Seven activists remain in Israel because injured. Three others - from Ireland, Italy and Australia - still in prison. Another ship is about to arrive in Gaza with humanitarian aid. United States and Italy urge Israel to open an independent investigation into the raid.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists deported from Israel arrived in Turkey this morning. The aircraft also carried nine corpses of those killed after the bloody May 31 raid on ships attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

There to welcome them home, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc and several Turkish MPs and thousands of friends and relatives who applauded, shouting "Turkey is proud of you!" And "Down with Israel". Others waved Turkish and Palestinian flags shouting "Allah akbar."

In his welcome speech Arinc accused Israel of "piracy" and applauded the Turkish NGOs that had organized the flotilla to Gaza. Israel accuses the same NGO of supporting Hamas terrorism.

Seven planes are all left Tel Aviv carrying 527 activists to Turkey and Greece. Seven other activists remain in Israel for treatment after being injured during the raid.

Meanwhile, international pressure is growing on Israel. Yesterday in Geneva the UN Human Rights Council voted for an international commission of inquiry into the raid on the "freedom flotilla". 32 countries voted in favour, 9 abstained, 3 - USA, Holland and Italy - voted against.

The United States and Italy are urging the state of Israel to launch an investigation on the incident, but according to sources in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, are opposed to this.

Another ship, the Rachel Carrie is currently en route to Gaza, carrying humanitarian aid. The ship is sponsored by two NGOs in Ireland and Malaysia. On board there are the Irish Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire and former UN secretary general Denis Halliday, as well as Malaysian personality.

The ship should arrive in Gaza at the weekend. Activists of the ship said they were willing to act in a nonviolent way and to obey the Israeli soldiers, even agreeing to be taken to Ashdod to off-load aid.

The Rachel Carrie was supposed to have joined the fleet attacked, but technical problems delayed its departure from Cyprus by several hours.

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