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Israel deports flotilla activists

world Updated: Jun 02, 2010 23:47 IST

AFP
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Israel is repatriating the families of its embassy staff in Ankara after its raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy, in which at least four Turkish nationals died, Israeli public radio reported on Wednesday.

Around 50 people related to Israeli consulate and embassy staff in Ankara were heading home, a senior official told the station, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But a break in diplomatic relations was not for the moment on the agenda, the official added.
The news came as Israel began deporting Turkish passengers on six aid ships captured by Israeli commandos in bloody clashes on Monday in which nine activists were killed.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to punish Israel for what he called its “bloody massacre”, in a passionate speech to parliament on Tuesday that was warmly received by deputies.

Ankara has already recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv for consultations and scrapped war games with Israel, as tens of thousands of Turks took to the streets across the country to protest the Israeli raid.

Turkey, once considered Israel’s main ally in the Middle East, has had increasingly strained relations with Israel, in part because of its policy towards the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamic Hamas organisation.

The raid saw Israeli commandos storm a flotilla of six vessels trying to break through a three-year-old Israeli blockade of Gaza, and deliver some 10,000 tonnes of supplies to the impoverished enclave.