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Turkish activist backs IDF account of Gaza flotilla

    A Turkish journalist's account of the events during the takeover of the flotilla to Gaza on May 31, in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos, tallies with the Israeli version of events.

    Sefik Dinc, a Turkish journalist, was on the Mavi Marmara ferry when the violent clashes took place. Mr Dinc recently published in Turkey a book on the incident, The Bleeding Mavi Marmara, which, while critical of Israel's actions, is also critical of his own government and the activists' actions.

    In an interview with Channel One in Israel, Mr Dinc contradicted the claim that Israeli forces fired at the ship even before boarding. "I saw with my own eyes that when the soldiers came on helicopters and started landing on the ship, they did not fire," he said.

    "It wasn't until the soldiers were met with resistance and realized that some of their friends' lives were in danger that they began using live ammunition." Naval commandos participating in the operation claimed that until the first team of soldiers landed on deck and were attacked, they had used only paint guns. Only when three members of the team were overpowered by the activists and dragged below deck, did they begin using "selective" live-fire.

    Mr Dinc also corroborates Israeli claims that the activists used metal truncheons to attack the soldiers and said that he and others who had not participated in the violence were treated humanely by the Israeli soldiers.

    Meanwhile, the Turkel Commission in Israel, investigating the flotilla operation, has issued an invitation to Turkish citizens who were on board the Marmara to travel to Israel and testify.

    On Monday, an IDF military court convicted a cadet who had been part of the security team on the Marmara for stealing a laptop and two long-range photo-lenses. The cadet was sentenced to five months' imprisonment.

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