05/31/2010, 00.00
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State of alert throughout Israel. "Brink of war or new Intifada"

by Joshua Lapide
Toll from attack rises to 19 dead. Roads to the West Bank and the Gaza crossings closed. Access to Temple Mount mosques forbidden. Raed Salah, Palestinian leader of the northern Israel is seriously hurt. Arab and Israeli strikes in Gaza. Abbas declares three days of mourning and calls the Israeli operation "a massacre". Israel claims aid ships were "a provocation" with links to terrorism. Anti-Israeli demonstrations in Istanbul. Ankara withdraws its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israeli police and security forces have raised a state of alert across the country after the attack on a group of ships off the coast of Gaza, leading to at least 19 dead and dozens injured (see Israel attacks ships carrying aid to Gaza. At least 10 dead). An Israeli policeman tells AsiaNews that "We are on the brink of war or a new Intifada."

Here and there in Israel, particularly in Nazareth, there are demonstrations against the attack on the ships carrying humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, forcing the Israeli blockade on the Strip. Arab organizations have declared a general strike.  Security forces have decided to close the Gaza crossings, some roads that communicate with the West Bank and the Temple Mount mosques.

The seized vessels (all six) were conducted in the port of Ashdod. There are fears about the fate of a Palestinian leaders from northern Israel, Raed Salah, who was on the attacked ships. At first the news spread that he had been killed in the raid. Palestinian sources now say that he is seriously hurt.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority has declared three days of mourning throughout the West Bank and called the Israeli operation a "massacre".

Israel is also battling the media. MPs and ministers continue to assert that the activists were not at all "peaceful" but waited for the arrival of soldiers carrying weapons (long knives, bats, other instruments of offense). At least six soldiers were wounded, one of whom seriously.

For Israel, ships and humanitarian aid were "a provocation". The deputy foreign minister, Daniel Ayalon said that before attacking, the Israeli military command ordered the ships to stop several times and agree to land the aid under Israeli control. He also said that the activists on the ship are linked to Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

According to some Israeli analysts, the incident of the Gaza flotilla is likely to further exacerbate the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis, on the brink of a new, third intifada. An Israeli policeman, speaking to AsiaNews, confirmed the risk of a third intifada, but also added: "We are on the brink of war. There is a fear that Hezbollah front in Lebanon could be sparked again and that anti-Israel demonstrations spread throughout the world. "

Currently there are demonstrations in Turkey, especially Istanbul. The Foreign Ministry urged all Israelis leaving for Turkey to cancel their departure and said he will hold the Ankara government responsible for anything that could happen to Israelis on soil Turkish.

Today Ankara has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.  

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See also
Israel attacks ship carrying aid to Gaza. At least 10 dead
Mavi Marmara, Ankara opens trial against former Israeli officers
Erdogan hailed as hero, after criticizing Shimon Peres
At least 70 dead, initial tally of Israeli retaliation against Hamas
Gaza ship activists expelled from Israel after sequester


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