“Israel has targeted innocent civilians,” said the foreign ministry in Ankara. “It has shown yet again that it does not care about human lives or peace initiatives.”
Noting that the dawn raid occurred in international waters, Ankara hinted at demanding legal redress.
The Turks convened an emergency meeting of generals and security ministers and called off military exercises with Israel, as did Greece.
The United Nations security council was expected to meet last night in New York over the incident.
“I heard the ships were in international water. That is very bad,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.
The Obama administration, while regretting the death toll, reserved judgment on apportioning blame.
“The United States is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy,” said White House spokesman William Burton.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cancelled plans to visit Obama at the White House today.
Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity, Israeli ambassadors were summoned in Stockholm, Madrid, and Athens, while Spain, holding the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, called a session of the EU’s political and security committee.
Foreign governments deplored the loss of life and voiced outrage at the Israeli conduct. But amid a propaganda war between the Israeli government press machine and pro-Palestinian lobbies over who started the fight and whether any of the activists on board were armed, they were also wary of going further than verbal condemnation.
The common response in Europe was to condemn what was seen as Israel’s disproportionate use of force. Even Germany, generally reluctant to criticize Israel because of the Holocaust, voiced horror at what Palestinian leaders dubbed a massacre.
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