Planes with nine bodies, hundreds of activists leave Israel
Israel early Thursday completed the deportation of hundreds of foreign nationals from its Ben-Gurion International Airport, the country's Foreign Ministry announced, DPA reported.
The bodies of the nine people who were killed in early Monday's forceful interception in mid-sea of six ships bound for Gaza were also on board the planes that took off from Tel Aviv, a spokesman told the German Press-Agency dpa.
Three of the fatalities were positively identified as Turks, while Israel had been unable to identify the other six bodies, because they carried no documentation and because other passengers had not cooperated with the identification process, said the spokesman.
The bodies were carried by two Turkish ambulance planes, which along with three other Turkish passenger planes as well as a Greek passenger one left the Israeli airport overnight with a total of 527 activists on board.
The planes took off at 10:39 pm (20:39 GMT) Wednesday, and 00:15 am and 00:45 am Thursday, said the Foreign Ministry.
More people had been deported earlier, including nationals of Arab states via the Allenby border crossing with Jordan overland late Tuesday, meaning that a total of some 705 activists of the Gaza "Freedom Flotilla" had now left Israel.
Only three - an Irishman, an Australian woman and an Italian man - currently remained in Israel but authorities hoped to also solve the procedural problems that caused the delay of their departure in the coming hours, said the spokesman.
In addition, seven injured activists also remained hospitalized in Israel - three in the Rambam hospital in the northern port city of Haifa, three in the Beilinson hospital in Petah Tiqwa, near Tel Aviv, and one in Tel Aviv's Tel Ha'Shomer hospital.
The departure of the last planes had been held up because a clash erupted at the airport late Wednesday, with pushing and shoving and some angry Greek activists refusing to cooperate by identifying themselves and boarding the Greek plane, said the official.
"I think everyone was getting to the edge of civil conduct after this whole affair," he said.