May 31, 2010
Posted: 702 GMT
(CNN) - More than 10 people onboard a flotilla carrying aid for the Palestinian territory of Gaza were killed when security forces boarded the boats Monday, the Israeli military said. Four soldiers were wounded, the military added.
Soldiers boarded six ships, the military said, after the flotilla refused to heed warnings to dock at Israel's Ashdod port, where supplies would be unloaded and transferred to Gaza.
"At about 4:30 am, Israeli commandos dropped from helicopter onto deck of Turkish ship, immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians," a post on the group's Twitter page said.
Video aired on CNN sister network CNN Turk showed what appeared to be soldiers rappelling onto the deck of a ship.
Turkish media reported two dead and 50 injured in the alleged incident as a flotilla of six ships approached the Gaza coast. Free Gaza co-founder Greta Berlin told Al Jazeera English that its lawyers in Israel informed her that 10 people have been killed and many others injured. CNN could not immediately confirmed the reports.
"We did not attack any boat, we merely fulfill the Israeli government's decision to prevent anyone from going into the Gaza strip without coordinating with Israel," a statement from the Israeli military said. "The flotilla is a provocation made to de-legitimize Israel. Had they really wanted to deliver the cargo into Gaza they could have done so via Israel as it is done on a daily basis."
Israel's deputy foreign minister has scheduled a press conference for 10:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET).
In Istanbul, Turkey, the Foreign Ministry has summoned the Israeli ambassador for an explanation, according to Murat Mercan, head of parliament's foreign relations committee, who said he's expected a "very harsh declaration" from Turkish authorities. Read full story
May 30, 2010
Posted: 1629 GMT
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Defying an Israeli blockade, a convoy of ships carrying food and aid resumed its journey toward Gaza Sunday afternoon after mechanical problems caused a delay.
Osama Qashoo of the Free Gaza organization, members of which are on one of the boats, said the flotilla was on the last leg of its journey.
Hamas marine security take to the waters off Gaza City port on May 28 ahead of the expected flotilla.
Morale onboard the ships was high, Qashoo said. "It's the best cruise you could ever take. People are singing and laughing."
The flotilla consists of six boats. Two of them developed mechanical problems.
One has been repaired and will be a part of the convoy. The other will head to Gaza next week.
The flotilla is expected to arrive near Gaza at about 9 a.m. Monday (2 a.m. ET), according to the Free Gaza Movement website.
The boats left European ports in a consolidated protest organized by two pro-Palestinian groups to deliver tons of food and other aid to Gaza to break a blockade imposed by Israel in 2007.
The Israeli government said Thursday it would stop the convoy, and that the Israeli Defense Force has been given instructions to reroute the flotilla to Israel's Ashdod port, where the supplies would be unloaded and transferred to Gaza. The activists remain adamant that they are headed to Gaza.
On Thursday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev called the flotilla "a cheap political stunt."
"We barely notice the Israeli threat," Qashoo said Sunday. "What we are doing is saying 'no' to beseiging people for years ... If the price of doing this is prison, let it be, and if the price is success, let it be."
He said participants are prepared - some have written their wills, while others are in contact with family and friends. As of Sunday afternoon, he said, no Israeli ships or aircraft could be seen.
Flotilla participants said in a statement they plan to hold a memorial service on Sunday for U.S. soldiers killed in a 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in the eastern Mediterranean. Thirty-four American soldiers died and 173 were injured. Read full story...
May 19, 2010
Posted: 1647 GMT
A platform for Kuwaiti teens to express themselves artistically, the Graffiti Student Competition is underway until May 21st. In conservative Kuwait, it was surprising to come across what's considered a "rebellious art from."
Cameraman James Stacey getting footage of the Graffiti Student Competition, part of the Al-Watan Daily Youth Initiative.
The paintings were sprayed by groups of four, all in their early teens. The newspaper also organized a journalism workshop and a photography competition.
This Youth Initiative is the brainchild of Dina Al-Mallak, the General Manager of the English-language Al Watan Daily newspaper. We chatted with her today – see more on our show June 2nd.
Find out more about the Al Watan Daily Youth Initiative
'Power' – one of the frontrunners for the three top spots as Kuwaitis continue to vote via SMS.
May 18, 2010
Posted: 507 GMT
By the CNN Wire Staf
Jerusalem (CNN) - Israel expressed "deep disappointment" Thursday over a meeting the Russian president held this week in Syria with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it expected Russia to stand by Israel in its struggle against Hamas.
Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal speaks at a news conference held in Damascus on March 15.
"Hamas is a terror organization whose declared goal is the destruction of the state of Israel," the statement read. "Hamas is responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, among them immigrants from the Soviet Union and also Russian citizens."
The statement continued, "Israel has always stood by Russia in its struggle against the Chechnyan terrorism. We expect the same attitude when we are talking about the Hamas terrorism against Israel."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met Meshaal while on a visit to Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday, Russian news outlets reported.
Medvedev called for the quick release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza since 2006, when he was captured by Palestinian militants, including those from Hamas, Russia Today reported. He also called for reconciliation between Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and Fatah, which rules the West Bank, Russia Today said.
"Enlightened countries should not divide terrorists into good and bad according to geographical divisions," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. "Terrorists are terrorists, and Israel does not see any difference between the terror Hamas activates against Israel and the Chechnyan terror activated against Russia.
"There is no difference between Khaled Meshaal and Shamil Basayev," the Foreign Ministry said, referring to the Chechen warlord killed by Russian security agents in 2006. Read full article.
May 15, 2010
Posted: 715 GMT
May 9, 2010
Posted: 1453 GMT
Take a tour of what's being billed as the first farmers market in the UAE.
Posted: 1447 GMT
A woman uses art to record alleged abuses she says she saw while in an Iraqi prison. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reports.
Posted: 1445 GMT
CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reports on how human trafficking in Iraq can make double victims of young girls.
May 3, 2010
Posted: 915 GMT
Hosted by Rima Maktabi from Amman, Jordan
“The 99” – Muslim Superheroes
For the first time, superheroes “inspired by Islam” are fighting evil and taking on the world in the form of comic books and an animated series. The creator and publisher, Kuwaiti clinical psychologist turned entrepreneur Naif Al-Mutawa, was singled out by President Obama at the March 26 Entrepreneurship Summit for “capturing the imagination of so many young people with superheroes that embody the tolerance and teachings of Islam.” Schams Elwazer introduces us to the man and the concept on the eve of a groundbreaking announcement that a major U.S. distributor will air the animated series in the United States.
Your IME Diary
We bring you highlights from events around the region in music and sports from a Tom Jones concert to Lebanese politicians playing a friendly soccer match commemorating the anniversary of the civil war. In old Amman we introduce you to artist Salam Kanaan. In Al-Ain we feature the Tinariwen musical group, a collective of Touareq rebel fighters turned musicians who sing about conflict and exile, about community and the triumph of the human spirit. Tracey Holmes meets these Blues men of the Sahara at the WOMAD music festival.
In a regular segment featuring discussions with the region’s youth, Inside the Middle East goes on campus with students at Jordan University. Founded in 1962, it is the oldest university in the Kindgom and has the highest enrollment in the country with 36,000 students. We hold a roundtable discussion to address issues of education and employment opportunities, censorship, and students’ aspirations to help end poverty.
Posted: 748 GMT
From Guy Azriel, CNN
Jerusalem (CNN) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend welcomed the Arab League's endorsement of peace talks with the Palestinians.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, chairs the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday in Jerusalem.
While still waiting for a formal approval from the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu stressed "that Israel wishes to resume the peace talks with the Palestinians at any time and at any place." Netanyahu said the talks are to be held "without preconditions."
Members of the Arab League met Saturday in Cairo, Egypt, where they gave their conditional approval for the resumption of the indirect talks that have been stalled for over a year now.
It was unclear when the talks would start. Procedurally, the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee needs to approve the start of negotiations, which is expected to happen this week.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat suggested a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. envoy George Mitchell may take place as soon as Friday.
"I think there is a meeting, but there is no confirmation yet," Erakat told CNN.
Meanwhile, Hamas, the Islamic movement that rules Gaza, expressed its explicit objection to the indirect talks.
"We reject all forms of negotiation with the Israeli occupation," Salah Al Bardail of Hamas said. "The American guarantees are [just] a new trick. We believe firmly that negotiations will result in negative consequences for the people and the Palestinian issue."
The resumption of talks comes in the midst of tensions betweenIsrael and Syria over allegations of long-range Scud missiles being transferred from Syria to Lebanon, targeting Israel's northern border.
Speaking to Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen on Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres said, "Israel is certain that long-range, accurate Scud missiles are being smuggled from Syria into Lebanon. Syria must stop acting one way and speaking another way. Their support for terror can no longer be hidden."
Welcome to the Inside the Middle East blog where CNN's journalists post news, views and video from across the region. This is also a place where you can start the discussion so please keep your comments coming. We highlight not only current news stories but also anecdotes and issues that don't always make the top of the headlines.
Read more about CNN's special reports policy
Watch the show
Inside the Middle East airs the first week of every month on the following days and times: