by Dave Bender, Gur Salomon, Yuan Zhenyu
JERUSALEM, June 1 (Xinhua) -- A day after the Israeli commando' s deadly raid on the Gaza aid convoy, there is no sign of an end to the hype. Both Israeli officials and international activists are standing their ground and say they're preparing for the next round.
Israeli government on Tuesday began dealing with repercussions of the incident. While most of the pro-Gaza activists are still under detention, Israeli military, after strict security check, delivered several trucks of aid unloaded from the flotilla to the coastal enclave.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday vowed to continue the blockade of Gaza, saying it is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the strip.
"Open a route to Gaza would be a huge threat to the security of our citizens. That is why we persist blockade policy, and examining the ships," Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting convened to discuss the repercussions of the deadly clash.
Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke earlier with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The UN Security Council on Tuesday condemned the Israeli navy's raid aboard the Gaza-bound convoy.
Clashes happened early Monday morning when Israeli navy backed with helicopters stormed one of the six ships. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) updated the death toll of the activists to nine, and numerous were injured during the clashes including seven Israeli soldiers.
A presidential statement adopted by the Security Council said the council "deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza," calling for "the immediate release" of the ships and personnel held by Israel.
Lieberman, in his conversation with Ban, termed the UN decision "unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East."
The aid ships have been docked at the Ashdod Port in southern Israel since Monday afternoon. The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority questioned 679 activists from the flotilla as of Tuesday morning.
An Interior Ministry spokesperson told Xinhua that 45 activists, mostly European, had chosen to board flights and immediately return to their countries. Many others, who refused to fly back to their countries of origin, are detained at an Israeli prison. " They had signed a document stating that they chose not to fly back to their countries," said the spokesperson Sabin Hadad.
Local daily Ha'aretz reported that some 46 civilians, mostly Turkish nationals, are still being treated in Israeli hospitals, among them nine in serious condition. Six navy soldiers are also hospitalized.
Media requests to interview the peace activists currently detained or in the hospital were turned down. Israeli Prisons Authority and hospital spokesmen said access to the activists may be granted later in the week.
In the meanwhile, Israeli news site Ynet reported that Jordan and Israel on Tuesday agreed that some 124 activists with Arab nationalities arrested in the Israeli navy's raid on the flotilla, would be released immediately and be returned to their countries via Jordan.
Israel began delivering the humanitarian cargo carried on the flotilla to its original destination on Tuesday afternoon. Israeli army has sent eight trucks of aid, which was unloaded from one of the vessels, into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, said an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman.
The video clips handed out by IDF showed that the goods entering Gaza consists of wheelchairs, toys and daily supplies. No suspicious articles were found in this part of goods during security check, said the spokesman.
"The policy for stopping similar aid flotillas will remain the same," said Mark Regev, a spokesman at Israeli Prime Minister's Office.
Regev told Xinhua, however, that methods other than those used in Monday's pre-dawn commandeering of one ship of the flotilla would likely be implemented, in order to limit violent clashes between Israeli military forces and activists.
The six-vessel flotilla, aiming at focusing world attention on the plight of the Gazans, consists of more than 10,000 tons of aid, including medical supplies and construction materials as well as hundreds of activists from over 40 countries.
On the other hand, Greta Berlin, an official of the Free Gaza Movement, which is one of the major organizers of the aid flotilla, said on Tuesday that they will not stop their efforts until Israel stops its Gaza siege policy.
She told Israeli news site the Ynet that a cargo boat with aid goods is heading from Italy towards Gaza, with a second vessel set to join it in the coming days. "The ships are currently docking at certain ports, we are waiting to see what happened to those who were murdered by your (Israeli) army, and then we will decide how to proceed," she said, adding that "We don't plan on stopping."