Turkey's Foreign Ministry says four Turkish citizens have been confirmed dead on the aid ship raided by Israeli commandos and another five of the slain are also believed to be Turks.
The ministry said Israeli authorities were still trying to
confirm the nationality of the remaining five people killed in yesterday's raid in the Mediterranean.
Today, Israel detained or deported hundreds of activists who were on Turkish-backed aid ships seized en route to Gaza, and the UN called for impartial investigation into the deaths of nine people in the takeover.
While Israel's diplomats worked to calm international outrage, its navy said it was ready to intercept another aid vessel that organisers of the flotilla planned to dispatch to the Gaza Strip, an enclave run by Hamas Islamists, next week.
Big questions were unanswered: how far Israel could continue to blockade 1,5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip after condemnation from allies, and how it misjudged the situation and dropped marines yesterday onto a Turkish ship where they felt they had to open fire to save their lives.
Activists were held incommunicado by Israel but their accounts began to emerge after some were deported.
"We did not resist at all, we couldn't even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard?" said Mihalis Grigoropoulos, who was aboard a vessel behind the Mavi Marmara, the cruise ship on which most of the violence occurred.
"The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices," Grigoropoulos told NET TV at Athens airport.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned from Canada after canceling White House talks that had been planned for today, was to convene his cabinet to discuss the fallout from what Israeli newspapers termed a blundered operation.
US President Barack Obama, who has succeeded in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations through US-mediated indirect talks, said he wanted the full facts soon and regretted the loss of life.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan urged Israel to lift what he called its "inhumane embargo" of Gaza as soon as possible. Once-close Muslim ally Turkey has described Israel's storming of the ships as "state terrorism".
After more than 10 hours of closed-door talks that gave rise to conflicting interpretations, the UN Security Council called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards".
It also condemned "those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and many wounded". Earlier Israeli reports had put the death toll at 10.
The use of the word "acts" instead of "act" - the term preferred by Turkey - suggested that activists who attacked the Israeli boarding party also bore some responsibility.
Alleging bias, Israel refused to cooperate with the UN.
Goldstone commission's inquiry into a Gaza war that it launched in December 2008 with the declared aim of ending cross-border rocket fire.
The inquiry found evidence that both Israel and Palestinian militants had committed war crimes, but the report was harsher toward Israel.
Some 700 activists were processed in and around Israel's port of Ashdod, where the six ships of the blockade-running convoy had been escorted. Among the activists were many Turks but they also included Israelis and Palestinians as well as Americans and many Europeans - among them politicians - a Jewish Holocaust survivor and Swedish author.
The military said the nine activists were killed when commandos, who stormed the Mavi Marmara from dinghies and helicopters, opened fire in what Netanyahu said was self-defence.
The Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that 50 activists had been taken to Ben-Gurion Airport for voluntary repatriation.
Around 629 had refused, and would be held while Israel weighed its legal options. Some 30 were in hospitals with injuries.
Adding his criticism of Israel's actions, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the loss of life was "irreparable and absolutely unjustified".
British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Netanyahu by telephone late on Monday and "deplored the heavy loss of life off the coast of Gaza", a spokesman for the British leader said.
Cameron "also stressed the importance of urgently lifting the blockade of Gaza, and allowing full access for humanitarian aid". Israel says it transfers large amounts of aid to the territory daily and that there is no humanitarian crisis there.
Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said police were gathering evidence to prosecute activists who had set upon the marines with fists, batons, knives and gunfire.
"All those who lifted a hand against a soldier will be punished to the full extent of the law," he told Israel Radio.
The European Union, a main aid donor to the Palestinians, and Russia demanded an inquiry and an end to the embargo.
Netanyahu voiced regret at the deaths but vowed to maintain the blockade to stop arms smuggling by Iranian-backed Hamas.
Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - no friend of Hamas which seized the Gaza Strip from his Fatah faction in 2007 - called the Israeli operation a "massacre".
Israel warned today it will halt a new bid to breach its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The warning came as Israeli police jailed or deported hundreds of activists after commandos boarded their Gaza-bound vessels in international waters yesterday in a bloody pre-dawn raid which sparked global outrage.
"We will not let any ships reach Gaza and supply what has become a terrorist base threatening the heart of Israel," deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai told public radio.
Vilnai's remarks were made as organisers of the "Freedom Flotilla" said they were preparing to send two more aid boats to Gaza, despite the tragic ending to their high-profile mission to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Strip.
Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement told AFP a new attempt would be made to run the blockade but not for several days.
"The Rachel Corrie (cargo ship) is currently located off the coast of Italy and the other boat is still being repaired," she said.
Yesterday's raid turned into a fiasco, with live footage from the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara showing black-clad Israeli commandos clashing with activists and several wounded people lying on the deck of the ship which was carrying hundreds of people.
The Israeli military, which blamed activists on the ship for creating the confrontation by attacking its soldiers as they boarded the vessel, said nine passengers were killed in the fracas.
The bloody ending to the humanitarian mission prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a visit to Washington, where he had been due to hold talks with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Netanyahu expressed regret at the loss of life but insisted that the Israeli commandos had "defended themselves from a lynching" as they rappelled down from helicopters onto the ships.
Israel's ambassador to Britain today admitted however that the raid was not a success.
"It's obvious, and I won't beat around the bush on this, that this wasn't successful," Ron Prosor told BBC radio, when asked if the raid had helped or hindered Israel.
"I think that it clearly took up an issue that should have been solved differently." Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told delegates at an emergency session of the UN Security Council that Israel had "lost all legitimacy." A statement issued by the Security Council president today condemned the killing and wounding of civilians, requested the immediate release of all ships and civilians held by Israel and called for an impartial investigation.
Authorities were set to deport 45 of the 686 passengers aboard the flotilla, interior ministry official Yossi Edelstein told army radio. Hundreds of others were in jail.
At least one passenger, former US career diplomat Edward Peck, already has been deported, said flotilla organiser Berlin.
Another 45 activists, most of them Turkish nationals, were being treated in various hospitals. Six soldiers also were hospitalised.
Turkey said it was sending three ambulance planes to Israel to bring home 20 of its wounded nationals.
Most of the dead were Turkish and their killings plunged into crisis the Jewish state's already fragile relations with Ankara - once Israel's closest Muslim ally.
Turkey recalled its ambassador and there were angry anti-Israeli protests in several Turkish cities.
Britain France, Russia and China, all veto-wielding permanent council members, called for Israeli blockade of Gaza to be lifted - in line with Security Council Resolution 1860 - and for an independent inquiry.
Israel issued an advisory warning its citizens against travelling to Turkey, but officials said there were no plans to recall its envoy.
Ambassadors from the 27 European Union countries condemned Israel for using violence against the aid flotilla and demanded an impartial inquiry.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas slammed the navy raid as "a massacre" and announced a three-day mourning period, while Ismail Haniya, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, called on the Palestinian leadership "to halt negotiations, direct or indirect, with Israel because of this crime." The six ships were on a mission to deliver some 10,000 tons of supplies to Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007 when the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory.
Israel had warned that it would intercept the ships.
Several Gaza militants infiltrated southern Israel today sparking clashes with Israeli troops along the border, the army said, in an incident which reportedly left two Palestinians dead.
"Two infiltrators were identified in southern Israel, near Nirim, and there was an exchange of fire," a spokeswoman said, referring to an Israeli area on the southern sector of the border not far from the Gazan city of Khan Yunis.
"At this stage, we have no injuries among our troops," she said, without commenting on the fate of the Palestinians.
Separately, Israeli public radio reported that two Palestinians were killed in the same area following an exchange of fire with Israeli troops. The army could not immediately confirm the reported deaths.
Witnesses on the Gaza side of the border confirmed an exchange of fire followed by some Israeli shelling, and an AFP photographer saw an Israeli helicopter firing missiles.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the Palestinian side as ambulances were not able to enter the area.
The pro-Palestinian Free Gaza movement have yet to decide whether two more ships headed for Gaza will continue their journey, a spokeswoman in Larnaca, Audrey Bomse, told the German Press-Agency.
The two ships are Ireland's "Rachel Corrie," with about 10 passengers on board including Denis Halliday, the Irish former UN Human Rights Coordinator in Iraq, and the US-flagged "Challenger", which is undergoing repairs in Nicosia.
"We have not made a final decision yet, but 'Rachel Corrie' is coming. She left Malta on her way to Gaza the night before last and she should be coming near Crete today," Bomse said, adding she was proceeding slowly.
The decision comes in the wake of Monday's lethal boarding of the flotilla by Israeli naval commandos, in which nine activists were killed.
"All of us want to go as an answer that this has not intimidated us, the Israeli criminal actions, but it has made us more determined than ever," Bomse vowed.
Bomse said she had not yet viewed the Israeli military footage which showed activists on board the Turkish "Mavi Marmara" physically attack with iron rods and chairs the Israeli naval commandos descending on the deck from helicopters.
The footage also shows activists pushing an Israeli soldier, who falls metres from the high level to the low level of the deck, and two black exploding dots which the military alleges were a Molotov cocktail and a grenade thrown by activists at the commandos.
A soldier with deep stab wounds to the chest is also seen, and the commandos can be heard in Hebrew on their radios requesting permission to use live ammunition because activists are allegedly opening fire at them. The Israeli commandos have charged they felt they were under a "lynch" attack and their lives endangered.
Bomse denied the activists had guns.
"I haven't seen that we're gonna look at it," she said of the Israeli footage. "First of all these are civilians. Chairs and rods are nothing compared to guns." She accused Israel of piracy for overtaking the ships in international waters and blamed it for causing the panic and mayhem by launching the assault under the cover of darkness. "This should have been a non-violent resistance," she said. "They should have done it in day light. You come jumping out of helicopters in the middle of the night, you're asking for confusion.
"This was not foreseen at all. I regret there was violence, but it was Israel which initiated this," she said, adding "There's no excuse to keep firing, you know if you fire at civilians, you fire at their legs. Why did so many people get killed?" Israeli Internal Security Minister Yizhak Aharonovich meanwhile warned that Israel would "prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone who lifted a hand against Israeli soldiers." He said law enforcement authorities had already begun taking testimonies and some of those who allegedly used violence had already been identified.
About 480 of the foreign activists who were stopped by Israel on the high seas while sailing to Gaza were transferred over night to a prison in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba where they were being questioned.
Another 48 activists had already been transported to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv to be expelled abroad.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council last night began an emergency session to discuss the deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla of ships seeking to take aid to the Gaza Strip.
Israel is facing a wave of international condemnation over the raid, in which at least nine people were killed.
Yahya Mahmassani, representing the Arab group at the UN, said there were a number of issues that were important for security council members to address. "We want a strong condemnation because this happened in international waters, we want to lift the blockade on Gaza, to allow all the food and material that was sent to Gaza to arrive, and Israel should abide by international law and its commitment under international law," he said.
An international probe of the incident was also needed, he said.
The talks were requested by Lebanon, which holds the council's rotating presidency until today.
The Palestinian permanent representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said there was hope that "at the end of the day . the security council will have a decisive outcome, a reaction to bring Israel to account at the same level of that crime that has been committed in the high seas".
US President Barack Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he deeply regretted the loss of life in Israel 's raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla and urged him quickly to get to the bottom of the incident.
The White House's cautious response, which contrasted with an outcry against Israel's actions in Europe and the Muslim world, reflected a difficult balancing act for Mr Obama. He will face international pressure to join condemnation of Israel but must also be mindful that the Jewish state, a close US ally, is popular with US legislators and voters. At the same time, US-led Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts are at risk of collapse.
"The president expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded," the White House said in a summary of Mr Obama's phone call with Mr Netanyahu yesterday.
Israel's storming of the aid ship unleashed outrage over the bloody end to a bid by human rights campaigners to break an Israeli blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Mr Netanyahu said Israeli forces had been attacked during the boarding and had to defend themselves. Sapa-AFP, Reuters, Sapa-dpa, Sapa-AP