Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian activists mark the first anniversary of Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, May 30, 2011
Source: Press TV
Large crowds of people have gathered in Istanbul to mark the first anniversary of the deadly Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla.
Tens of thousands of protesters in Istanbul's Taksim Square denounced the attack by Israeli naval forces on the civilian convoy, the Press TV correspondent in Istanbul reported.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the six-vessel Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters to prevent the convoy from accomplishing its blockade-busting mission.
In the assault, nine Turkish nationals, including a teenager with Turkish-US dual citizenship, were killed and dozens were injured.
The demonstrators expressed support for the families of the people killed in the incident and also demanded that Israel lift its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip.
Earlier on Monday, peace activists gathered on the deck of the Mavi Marmara -- the ship where the nine people were killed and which is now preparing to sail for Gaza again next month -- and warned Israel not to interfere with the next flotilla.
The convoy, which has been named the Freedom Flotilla II, will comprise some 15 aid vessels and over 1,500 activists of around 100 different nationalities.
According to the organizers, the ultimate mission of the flotilla is not only to provide humanitarian assistance but to draw the attention of the international community to the plight of Gazans, who have been cut off from the outside world for years due to the Israeli siege.
Nine flotillas have attempted to break Israel's illegal stranglehold since August 2008, but only five made it into Gaza. The Israeli military violently intercepted the fleets on the past four voyages, including the May 2010 flotilla, which was organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.
The Freedom Flotilla II organizers say the move is an act of nonviolent disobedience meant to persuade the international community to fulfill its obligations toward the Palestinian people and to put pressure on Israel to end its siege.