Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed "regret" for the loss of life of ten activists on board, but said the soldiers "had to defend themselves, defend their lives, or they would have been killed."
"A soldier identified only as a sergeant told reporters at a military briefing that the activists on board 'were armed with knives, scissors, pepper spray and guns.' He said he was armed only with a paintball rifle. 'It was a civilian paintball gun that any 12-year-old can play with,' he said. 'I saw my friends on the deck spitting blood.'
"Israel intercepted the six ships carrying some 10,000 tons of aid for the isolated seaside territory, which has been blockaded by Israel for three years, with Egypt's cooperation. The Israeli government had urged the flotilla not to try to breach the blockade before the ships set sail from waters off Cyprus on Sunday and offered to take some aid in for them.
"Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009."
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