Tens of Thousands Mourn Victims of Flotilla Attack in Istanbul

Tens of thousands gathered here Thursday for prayers for activists killed in Israel's deadly raid on aid ships bound for Gaza, condemning the Jewish state and shouting support for Hamas.

"Damn Israel! Israel is the angel of death!" chanted the crowd which overflowed the sprawling courtyard of the Fatih Mosque, waving Turkish and Palestinian flags.

Nine people -- eight Turks and a US national of Turkish origin -- were killed in Monday's pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces on the Turkish ferry, Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the aid flotilla aiming to break the crippling blockade of Gaza, AFP reports.

According to The Associated Press, Israel on Thursday rejected calls from the United Nations and others for an international investigation of its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla but left the door open to foreign involvement.

Israel says the commandos used force, killing nine people, only after activists attacked them with knives, crowbars and clubs, as well as two pistols grabbed from raiders. Activists who had set sail for Gaza with tons of aid, hoping to break Israel's 3-year-old blockade of Gaza, say Israeli commandos fired first.

Officials have insisted Israel's military already is investigating the raid and the country is capable of conducting a credible review.

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