|Egyptian protestors shout anti-Israel slogans in a rally in Cairo, capital of Egypt, May 31, 2010, after Israeli commandos attacked an aid flotilla carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, killing at least 19 people in the predawn raid. (Xinhua/Nasser Nouri)
BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Israel's attack on a Gaza-bound international aid flotilla on Monday has triggered widespread criticism from countries and international organizations around the world.
Up to 19 civilians were killed and some 30 injured in the predawn showdown between Israeli navy and pro-Palestinian activists onboard the flotilla, consisting of nine ships from Turkey, Britain, Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria loaded with supplies such as cement, water purification systems and wheelchairs.
The incident happened after Isreali soldiers tried to stop the flotilla from reaching besieged Gaza. The Israeli army responded that their commandos opened fire at the ships when they felt their lives were "under threat."
"We found weapons aboard the ship for use against the soldiers," said Israeli Vice Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a press conference, adding that the flotilla's behavior was "an act to break the blockade on Gaza."
After the deadly incident, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently on a visit to Jordan, said "what Israel has committed against the activists of the Freedom Flotilla is a massacre," and called for three-day mourning and flags at half-mast.