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Israel Deports Flotilla Activists, Criticism About Raid Continues


Israel says it is speeding up deportation of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists who were aboard ships stormed by Israeli commandos this week. The raid in the Mediterranean this week killed nine activists and sparked a storm of worldwide protests.

More than 100 deported activists have arrived at the Jordanian border.

They had hoped to break the blockade on Gaza but, instead, were taken by Israeli authorities early Wednesday on buses from a prison at Bersheeva in Israel to the Allenby bridge on Jordan's border.

Israel says it wants to get all of the activists out of the country within two days.

The deportees are from countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Mauritania, and a number of other nations that have no diplomatic ties with Israel.

The deportees, who included journalists aboard the vessels, spoke of their experiences after Israeli commandos stormed the ships in the early hours of Monday and during their detention in Israel. This man, arriving at the border, complained of what he describes as brutal treatment by the Israelis.

Commander James Kraska of the U.S. Naval War College discusses whether Israel was within its legal rights to board the Turkish vessel:

He says what he saw were tragic and bloody scenes. He says he had thought that Israel, a democratic state, would differentiate between militants and civilians and, within civilians, see the difference between journalists and human rights activists. He says he was surprised the Israeli reaction was so violent.

Israel has released more video of the raid on the open sea. The sound of gunshots and shouting tell of violence in the moments that Israeli commandos descended from helicopters onto the deck of the Turkish-flagged main vessel of the flotilla.

One of the commandos, speaking to Israeli TV from his hospital bed, said activists attacked him first.

He says those he encountered on the deck of the ship were not peace activists. He expected verbal and forceful opposition, but not with such strength. He says each and every one who approached him on the deck, he could perceive was out to kill him.

Israel says its commandos acted in self-defense and said it regrets the loss of life.

None of the explanations, however, have quelled the protests around the world.

In Turkey, anti-Israel demonstrations have prompted the Israeli government to order the families of Israeli diplomats to leave the country.

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