President Shimon Peres went to Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv Thursday to meet with the soldiers who were wounded early Monday morning while preventing boats from entering Gaza. Peres offered his thanks to the soldiers and their families.
Peres told the soldiers that he had come “to salute you in the name of the state of Israel, and to thank you from the depths of my heart for the sacrifices that each of you made even when your lives were at risk.” He lauded the soldiers for “demonstrating bravery and morality in conflict.”
He offered special thanks to First Sergeant Y, a soldier who was very badly wounded in the incident and is currently in moderate condition. “I've been thinking about 'Y' since this first happened... I know it's a miracle that he can talk to me today,” the president told te soldier's family.
"The entire nation is embracing him,” he added.
'Y' and his fellow soldiers were wounded aboard a Turkish ship carrying members of the terrorism-linked organization IHH. The ship was accompanied by other boats carrying foreign activists who claimed to be interested in transporting supplies to Gaza, although they refused Israel's offer to allow supplies in by an alternate route.
Soldiers boarded the boat after its passengers defied Israel's blockade on maritime travel to Gaza; as they boarded, they were attacked by passengers bearing clubs, metal poles and knives. Several soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously. They fired their handguns in self defense, killing nine of the attackers.
Despite the violent incident, Israel still seeks peace, Peres said. “Israel still has a hand outstretched for peace, and today as well, we tell Hamas: if you want to rid yourselves of the blockade on Gaza, abandon terrorism and recognize Israel and we'll sit together at the negotiating table,” he stated.
Regarding condemnation of Israel in the United Nations, Peres said, “Unfortunately, there's an automatic anti-Israel majority in the UN no matter what Israel does. That's not a just majority.”
"There's no way to pass reasonable, positive decisions regarding the Middle East in face of the UN's Arab lobby,” he added.