Israel is facing another potentially explosive confrontation at sea as pro-Palestinian activists sent two more boats to challenge its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Turkey - one of Israel's closest Muslim allies until Monday's clash left several of citizens dead - was last night reported to be considering sending a naval escort for the boats.
This would arrive in the region at the end of the week, creating a potential flashpoint for a major clash between the nations.
Yesterday Turkish premier Tayyip Erdogan called for Israel to be punished for its attack on the flotilla on Monday and said 'nothing would ever be the same' in relations between the two allies.
'Israel's behaviour should definitely, definitely be punished. No one should try to test Turkey's patience,' he said.
Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza Movement, which organised the flotilla at the centre of Monday's confrontation, said it would not be deterred by the Israeli action and that one of the two latest cargo ships was already off the coast of Italy en route for Gaza.
The MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship bought by pro-Palestinian activists and named after an American woman killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, set off yesterday from Malta, organisers said.
It was carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, as well as 15 activists, including Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Denis Halliday, an Irish former senior UN diplomat.
A second boat carrying about three dozen passengers is expected to join it, Miss Berlin said, adding: 'This initiative is not going to stop.
We think eventually Israel will get some kind of common sense. They're going to have to stop the blockade of Gaza, and one of the ways to do this is for us to continue to send the boats.'
Israeli officials said it was studying the lessons from the Monday's clashes and would be prepared to turn back any further challengers to its blockade.
The flotilla was the ninth seaborne attempt to breach the blockade that Israel and Egypt imposed after the militant Hamas group violently seized the territory in 2007.
Israel allowed five seaborne aid shipments to get through but slammed the blockade shut after its 2009 war in Gaza.
Israel says it is is needed to prevent the Iranian-backed Hamas, which has fired thousands of rockets into the Jewish state, from building up its arsenal.
It also wants to put pressure Hamas to free an Israeli soldier it has held for four years.
Critics say the blockade has failed to weaken Hamas but further strapped an already impoverished economy.
Egypt broke ranks with Israel yesterday and said it was opening its border with the strip for several days to allow in aid.
The governor of Egyptian's northern Sinai district said it was a gesture meant to 'alleviate the suffering of our Palestinian brothers after the Israeli attack'.