Protests As Israeli Attack on Flotilla Claims Civillian Lives

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Protests occured yesterday in Southampton and beyond after a convoy of ships seeking to bring huminitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip were attacked by Israeli forces in the early hours of Monday morning. Armed troops boarded the boats, and reports have suggested between 10 and 19 civillians were killed when the soldiers opened fire. The attack occured in international waters, making it a clear breach of international law.
The Israeli army have claimed they were attacked with light weaponry, including knives and clubs, and live fire when they attempted to board the vessel. The organisers of the flotilla however rejected this claim, stating that the soldiers opened fire as soon as they boarded and were met with only passive resistance, rejecting all reports of live fire from the passengers. A white flag was also raised by the attacked ship.
The flotilla is carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including medicene, wheelchairs and building materials, in an attempt to help the people of Gaza struggling to rebuild their community following the military action in January 2009. The ships were towed by the Israeli navy to the port of Ashdod and the passengers were deported or imprisoned after recieving treatment for their injuries.
It has also emerged that a local man, Peter Venner, 63, from Ryde in the Isle of Wight, was aboard the vessel when it was boarded. His family are still waiting to hear what happened to him.
The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, who helped organise the flotilla held a protest outside West Quay on Above Bar street aimed at encouraging the UK government to break its silence and join other members of the international community in condemning the attacks. A more high profile demonstration took place outside Downing Street in London which then moved to the Israeli embassy. Around 5000 people are thought to have attended. A second, larger demonstration is planned for Saturday, beginning outside Downing Street at 1:30 and progressing to the Israeli embassy. Campaigners are also encouraging people to e-mail the foreign office in order to ask them to speak out over the issue.

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