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Updated: June 2, 2010 18:47 IST

Barak praises Israeli commandos in flotilla attack

PTI
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CPI (M) supporters during a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI.
CPI (M) supporters during a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI.

Showing no signs of remorse, Israel today praised the deadly raid carried out by its navy commandos on the humanitarian aid flotilla headed to Gaza, saying “there is no mercy for the weak” in the region and a strong defence was the only option.

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak today visited the Shayetet 13 base in Atlit and praised the commandos who participated in the bloody raid on the Gaza—bound ships that left nine pro—Palestinian activists dead and dozens others wounded, Army Radio reported.

“You carried out the mission and prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza,” Mr. Barak said.

“We need to always remember that we aren’t North America or Western Europe.

“We live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak and there aren’t second chances for those who don’t defend themselves.

“You were fighting for your lives — I saw it, and I heard it from your commanders,” he said.

Mr. Barak was accompanied by Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Navy commander Eliezer Marom.

Nine pro—Palestinian activists were killed on Monday in clashes that occurred when Israeli naval commandos took control of the Mavi Marmara ship, one of the six aid ships intercepted by the IDF.

Seven Israeli soldiers were wounded, two seriously, when attacked by the activists.

Meanwhile, Israel has begun deporting the first batch of foreign activists apprehended aboard the aid carrying ships, the Foreign Ministry said today, indicating that the rest of the activists will be escorted out of the country throughout the day.

As many as 325 foreign activists, out of the 680 that participated in the mission, were transferred this morning from the Ela detention facility in Be’er Sheva to Ben Gurion Airport for flights to their countries of origin.

Another 186 activists were still at the prison but Israeli authorities were processing their release “at this moment,” a prison service spokeswoman said.

In the face of mounting international criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to deport all the foreign activists yesterday.

Israeli officials said that all the 680 activists held would be released, including two dozen that Israel had threatened to prosecute earlier on charges of assaulting its troops.

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