Turkey Honors Activists Killed During Israeli Raid

Funerals were held in Istanbul on Thursday for the Turks, and one American citizen, killed in this week's Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. The surviving activists were given a heroes' welcome on return from Israel earlier in the day.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And Im Michele Norris.

And to Istanbul now, where thousands of people turned out for a joint funeral. They were mourning eight Turkish activists killed by Israeli commandos during a naval raid on Monday. In a moment, we'll hear more details about some of those killed.

But first, NPR's Jackie Northam reports from Istanbul.

(Soundbite of a crowd)

JACKIE NORTHAM: Huge crowds began streaming towards Istanbul's Fatih mosque early today. Inside lay eight coffins draped in Turkish and Palestinian flags, carrying the remains of pro-Palestinian activists killed on Monday. The youngest, an American of Turkish descent, was just 19 years old. The oldest buried in the joint ceremony was 60. A ninth Turkish victim will be buried Friday.

A local television station reported that all the victims died from gunshot wounds. The crowd held banners calling Israelis murderers and war criminals. Among those attending were survivors of the deadly clash between Israeli commandos and activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. One of their spokesmen said the flotilla was just trying to get aid to the Palestinians.

But Turkish analyst Ercan �itlioglu, with International Security Center Bah�esehir University, says there are suspicions that some provocateurs were among the passengers on the Turkish boat and that he expected there would be trouble.

Dr. ERCAN �ITLIOGLU (President, Bah�esehir University): When I saw their flags they are waving - the green flags, the jihadist flags I am not surprised.

NORTHAM: Still, �itlioglu says Israel's response was both unacceptable and deplorable, a sentiment that ripples throughout the country.

President Abdullah G�l told the funeral crowd that Turkey will never forget the attack on its ships and that its relationship with Israel will never be the same again.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Istanbul.

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