Israeli naval patrol boats intercepted eight blockade-running vessels in international waters on Sunday night in an attempt to turn back the protestors away but nevertheless deliver the cargo to the people of Gaza. The boarding turned violent when protestors attacked the commandos with sticks, knives and hammers. Protestors reportedly managed to take weapons from soldiers and turned on the troops with live fire prompting the lethal response. Four soldiers were hurt in the melee and there are reports that sixteen demonstrators died when troops returned fire. Protestors laid siege to the Israeli embassy in downtown Istanbul where government officials summoned the ambassador to hear a diplomatic protest. The lead ship in the flotilla flew the Turkish flag. In Israel, police are on high alert throughout the country fearing Arab violence in the wake of the flotilla attack. Early reports from Turkey indicating that Sheikhh Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic organization in northern Israel, was among those killed on board one of the ships proved to be false. The Media Line’s correspondents throughout the region continue to monitor the situation closely.
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