Nightly News   |  May 31, 2010

At least 9 dead after Israeli raid on flotilla

Israeli commandos seized six ships carrying aid to the Gaza strip. The military rappelled from helicopters onto the lead boat, a Turkish cruise liner carrying hundreds of activists. Stephanie Gosk reports.

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KATE SNOW, anchor: that is still developing as we come on the air tonight. An Israeli commando raid on the Mediterranean Sea targeting ships carrying supplies to Palestinians in Gaza . The deadly firefight has triggered an international outrage and a fight over the facts. What really happened? Our report tonight from NBC 's Stephanie Gosk . She begins with images of the raid shown on Turkish television .

STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: Just before dawn the Israeli military seized the flotilla, six ships carrying aid to Gaza . Turkish TV showed commandos rappelling from helicopters onto the lead boat, a Turkish cruise liner carrying hundreds of activists. Within moments they fight back, and soldiers respond with gunfire. An Iranian TV reporter on the ship describes the scene.

Unidentified Reporter: We have -- one person has just been hit in the head by a bullet. We think he may die.

GOSK: At least nine activists were killed and dozens wounded. The Israeli military released this infrared video and an interview with soldiers, they say to prove the shooting was in self-defense.

Unidentified Man: As soon as I came down, a group of people assaulted me with clubs, threw chairs, glass bottles.

GOSK: The injured were taken to hospitals. Other passengers are being held by Israeli police for questioning. Organizers of the mostly Turkish group

said they had two goals: deliver 10,000 tons of aid to the Gaza Strip and break the three-year-long blockade imposed by Israel .

Ms. GRETA BERLIN (Free Gaza Movement): The only weapons that were on board at 4:30 this morning belonged to the Israelis.

GOSK: What the activists say was a peaceful mission, Israeli officials call an outrageous provocation. The Israeli prime minister cut short a North American trip, canceling a meeting with President Obama , to fly home and deal with the diplomatic crisis.

Mr. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (Israeli Prime Minister): We want to maintain a situation where we prevent weapons and war material from coming into Gaza .

GOSK: The incident has triggered an angry response from Tehran to Paris to Istanbul , where demonstrators tried to overrun the Israeli Consulate . Turkish officials pulled their ambassador in Israel .

Unidentified Woman: It is not possible to accept what Israel has done today. It's unthinkable.

GOSK: The White House stopped short of condemning Israel , but is asking tonight for a quick and thorough investigation. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, London.