| GEO World|
| Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara towed from Israel port|
| Updated at: 0917 PST, Friday, August 06, 2010|
HAIFA: The Turkish passenger ship at the centre of the violence during a deadly Israeli navy raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla was towed out of a port in Israel on Thursday, a media correspondent said.
The Mavi Marmara was towed out of Haifa by a large Turkish tug boat which had been sent to collect the ferry.
Two other boats which were also commandeered by the navy during the May 31 raid were also due to be towed out of the southern port of Ashdod on Thursday, the defence ministry said, but it was not immediately clear when.
The move to return the ships comes after a decision by the political leadership following a request from Ankara, the ministry said in a statement.
"Three Turkish towing ships will arrive in Israel today. Their crews will receive three vessels anchored in Israel along with the personal equipment that was aboard them," the ministry said, without saying when the handover would take place.
All three were part of a six-ship flotilla, which tried to run Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip on May 31. It was not immediately clear whether the remaining three boats were still docked in Israel.
The Rachel Corrie aid boat was also believed to be being held at an Israeli port, although legal moves were under way to have it released.
Israeli navy commandos stormed all six ships in a botched raid which descended into violence and resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists, sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.
Troops involved in the raid say they resorted to lethal force only after being attacked when they rappelled from helicopters onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara, which was carrying more than 600 passengers at the time.