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Death of Turkish-American in Israeli raid complicates situation

WASHINGTON — A 19-year-old man with dual U.S.-Turkish citizenship was among the nine people killed in the Israeli raid on an aid flotilla in the eastern Mediterranean, the State Department said Thursday. That potentially complicates the Obama administration's attempts to remain neutral in the crisis.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the victim was Furkan Dogan and that U.S. authorities in Turkey had met with Dogan's father to express condolences and to offer U.S. consular services. She added that two other American citizens had been injured — one in the raid and the other during a subsequent protest — and that the United States was seeking information about all three from Israel.

"Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental responsibility of our government and one that we take very seriously," she told reporters.

A broader problem for the Obama administration is what to do about the Israeli blockade of Gaza that the flotilla was trying to break through. The administration supports Israel's view that measures must be taken to prevent, or at least minimize, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza that could be used to attack Israel.

But Clinton said in her remarks to reporters that the administration is searching for new answers.

"We are evaluating ways of expanding the flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza while protecting Israel's legitimate security interests," she said. She cited no examples of alternatives to the blockade.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Dogan, who was born in Troy, N.Y., had died of gunshot wounds.

Dogan's father, Ahmet, told Turkey's state-run Anatolia News Agency that he had identified his son's body and that he had been shot through the forehead. Still, he said, the family was not sad because they believed Furkan had died with honor.

Clinton said no decision had been made about how to handle Dogan's death but renewed calls for Israel to investigate. Israel has rebuffed calls for any international role in a investigation of Monday's incident, in which commandos boarded several ships heading to the blockaded Gaza Strip with humanitarian supplies. Israel says its forces encountered fierce resistance aboard one ship, resulting in the violence that claimed the nine lives.

Death of Turkish-American in Israeli raid complicates situation 06/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 3, 2010 9:53pm]
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