JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the activists aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla were the victims of Israeli "state terrorism."
"The Freedom Flotilla is not the first serious attempt to support the Palestinian people and break the siege, and it will not be the last," Abbas told participants Wednesday at the opening session of the second Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem.
Abbas called the Arab and foreign investors, including an official White House delegation, a "freedom convoy … to break the economic blockade on the Palestinian people," Haaretz reported.
"We expect international justice, and the blockade must be lifted. Stopping the attacks is the first step towards peace," he told the conference. "The settlements must be halted as they are illegal, including what is defined as an expansion of settlements for natural needs."
A day earlier, in an interview on PA TV, Abbas said that Israeli commandos boarded the flotilla boats early Monday morning "with determination to kill."
"(T)his decision was made in advance. They [Israel] wanted to create a confrontation," he said according to Palestinian Media Watch.
"Israel always ignores all international norms, all international laws, all humanitarian laws. [Israel] doesn’t care about anything."
According to Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli nongovernmental organization that monitors the Palestinian Authority media, the activists on board the ships chanted anti-Semitic battle cries and discussed their coming martyrdom in the days before the confrontation.
An Israel Defense Forces video shown on YouTube shows Israeli naval commandos being attacked as they boarded one of the flotilla ships. Nine activists aboard the ship were killed in the rioting.