Israel was on Friday night under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after post mortem results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.

Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the post mortems for the Turkish Ministry of Justice on Friday.

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has U.S. citizenship, was shot five times from less than 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.

The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of U.K.-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain on Friday, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a “shoot to kill policy”.

Israel said the number of bullets found in the bodies did not alter the fact that the soldiers were acting in self defence. “The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation,” said a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London. “Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation.”

An unnamed Israeli commando, who purportedly led the raid on the Mavi Marmara, on Friday told Israeli news website Ynet News that he shot at a protester who approached him with a knife. “I was in front of a number of people with knives and clubs,” he said. “I cocked my weapon when I saw that one was coming towards me with a knife drawn and I fired once. Then another 20 people came at me from all directions and threw me down to the deck below ...

“We knew they were peace activists. Though they wanted to break the Gaza blockade, we thought we'd encounter passive resistance, perhaps verbal resistance — we didn't expect this. Everyone wanted to kill us.”

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

Keywords: IsraelFlotillaGaza

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