Israeli PM Netanyahu Says Aid Ship Was 'Not a Love Boat'

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called for the temporary opening of the country's Rafah crossing with Gaza. Two buses carrying about 150 Gazans, including students and those seeking medical attention, crossed the border Tuesday, Egyptian officials said in an AP report. Two trucks carrying supplies of tents, blankets and power generators crossed into Gaza.

The governor of northern Sinai Murad Muwafi told the AP that the crossing should be open for several days "to alleviate the suffering of our Palestinian brothers after the Israeli attack" on the flotilla.

Mubarak has yet to specify how long the crossing would be open.

Irreparably Damaged Ties

Activists and Gazans aren't the only groups on the move: Israel has ordered the families of diplomats out of Turkey as the relations between the two countries, until recently strategic allies in the region, hit a new low.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel Monday, stating ties could be irreparably damaged. Israel's ambassador to Turkey and the consulate in Istanbul will not be recalled, Israel Radio reported today.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the raid "a bloody massacre" on the ships carrying hundreds of Turkish activists, killing at least four Turks. "A new era starts today. We will never turn our backs on the Palestinian people," Erdogan said Tuesday night in a speech to the Turkish parliament.

The alliance is dead, a senior official in Jerusalem said Tuesday night, according to Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. "The Turks are right about one thing: Irreversible harm has been caused to the relations. In the situation that has been created, Turkey will no longer be a strategic ally of Israel."

Generally, Israel and Turkey face many challenges in which both have strong mutual interests, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Andy David said.

"Hopefully, we'll overcome the shadows that we see today," he said, declining to comment on the withdrawal of the diplomats' families.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for a new ship, the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie, due to arrive Friday. "The Rachel Corrie will not be allowed into Gaza," David said. "We are watching it and waiting to see what will happen. Hopefully, the people on board will direct to the port in Ashdod.

"The naval blockade is still in effect and the ship will not be allowed to enter into the naval blockade area."

Monday's convoy of ships was organized by the Free Gaza movement and intended to break the three-year Israeli blockade on the region. Dubbed the "Freedom Flotilla," it was the movement's ninth voyage to Israel.

"This is not the end of our struggle to break the siege," Greta Berlin, co-founder of the Free Gaza movement and flotilla organizer, said Tuesday. "The [Rachel Corrie] mission is underway. Our goal is still to reach Gaza to unload the tons and tons of cargo that's on its way."

Investigating the Raid

David said that based on the combination of media reports and what Israel found on the boat, the flotilla was not a mission of peace activists, but one of terrorists, even though there were peace activists on the boat. "We saw knives, axes, metal chains, ball bearings, electric saws, clubs and metal bars and more of those 'cold weapons,' though cold weapons kill as efficiently" David said, adding that the combination of these findings and media reports "put a different light on these events."

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