Turkish group is accused of backing al-Qa'ida
The umbrella group responsible for the flotilla is the Free Gaza Movement, which has been sending groups of activists to challenge the Israeli blockade for two years.
Normally, members of the international group on the flotillas are detained and deported. In the early days, before the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008, they were allowed to land.
Although it is largely comprised of pro-Palestinian activists, it is also backed by a raft of well-known international figures.
However, one of the main groups involved in the flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos yesterday was the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief, which is a radical Islamist group claimed by Israel to be masquerading as a humanitarian agency. Israeli authorities claimed the group was "sympathetic to al-Qa'ida".
Israel does not dispute that the foundation, known by the initials of its Turkish name, IHH, provides relief compatible with its official status, including supplying food and medicines to orphans and conflict zones.
But the Israelis accuse it of overtly supporting Hamas and also of being in contact with al-Qa'ida cells and with the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.
The claims remain controversial, though IHH's public statements are frequently anti-semitic.
Whatever the judgment on Israel's response, the violence with which the boarding parties were met will cause concern among peace activists. (© Daily Telegraph, London)