GAZA, June 7 (UPI) -- Pictures of pro-Palestinian activists overpowering Israeli troops as they stormed a Gaza-bound aid ship surfaced as Iran offered to escort other relief ships.
The photos, taking by an unidentified person on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, prompted Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev to say the photos show "our boarding party in fact did face deadly violence from the hardcore (Islamic) activists on the boat from the fundamentalists," The Daily Mail reported Monday.
Israeli troops seized the flotilla last week as it tried to sail through an Israeli blockade. In the violence that followed aboard the Mavi Marmara, nine activists died.
Israeli military officials said the men who fought the soldiers were mercenaries and that some of the activists had ties to terrorist groups, the British newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, Ali Shiraz, a spokesman for Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, "Iran's Revolutionary Guard's naval forces are fully prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys to Gaza with all their powers and capabilities."
Shiraz said it was Iran's duty "to defend the innocent people of Gaza."