UN decries Israeli flotilla raid
June 1, 2010
Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Jerusalem on
the storming of the flotilla and its aftermath
The UN Security Council
has condemned acts leading to the deaths of civilians during Monday's Israeli
attack on a humanitarian aid convoy that was headed to the Gaza Strip.
a formal statement adopted after more than 10 hours of closed-door negotiations,
the council requested the immediate release of ships and civilians held by
Israel and called for an impartial investigation.
Prior to the emergency
session, almost all the 15 members of the council deplored the attack that left
at least 10 activists on board the Freedom Flotilla dead and dozens
"It is clearer than ever that Israel's restrictions on access to
Gaza must be lifted in line with Security Council Resolution 1860," Mark Lyall
Grant, the British ambassador, said on Tuesday.
"The current closure is
unacceptable and counterproductive," Grant said.
France, Russia and China
also called for the blockade to be lifted and for an independent
The United States, Israel's traditional ally, did not request
specifically that Israel end its blockade on the Gaza Strip. But it hinted that
the measure at least should be eased.
Alejandro Wolff, US deputy
permanent representative, said that Washington was "deeply disturbed by recent
violence and regrets tragic loss of life and injuries".
Meanwhile the EU
and Russia have issued a joint condemnation of Israel's use of deadly force in
the operation, and urged the opening of crossings in Gaza.
during a Russia-EU summit, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister and
Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief demanded an end to the blockade of
Their joint declaration added: "The EU and Russia call for
immediate opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial
goods and people to and from Gaza."
The EU's president, Herman Van
Rompuy, called for a "durable solution" for the situation in Gaza. "We regret
the loss of life, condemn the use of violence and demand an immediate, full and
impartial investigation," he said.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president,
said that the civilian deaths were "irreparable and absolutely unjustified."
Meanwhile, Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip
letting Palestinians cross until further notice.
Palestinian TV said that
Mahmood Abbas, the president, phoned Hosni Mubarak, his Egyptian counter-part,
to thank him for "responding to the massacre" by opening the
The statements reflected the
international community's strong
disapprovalof Monday's events in the high seas, when Israeli soldiers
stormed the six ships in international waters about 65km off the Gaza
The ships with about 700 pro-Palestinian activists were carrying
10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for Gaza, the coastal territory under a
crippling Israeli siege.
Israel insisted that its troops had acted in
self-defence after being attacked by those on board.
But Al Jazeera's
Jamal Elshayyal, on board the lead ship Mavi Marmara, said troops opened
fire even after passengers had raised a white flag.
Israeli troops have
taken the ships to the port of Ashdod after seizing them.
were injured are being treated in hospitals while 480 others are been detained
and subjected to interrogations. Another 48 activists have been deported to
their respective countries.
Al Jazeera's Elshayyal is reportedly being
held at a detention facility at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, together with two
of his colleagues.
Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Ashdod,
said: "We are still trying to get information in terms of the condition of the
"An identification and interrogation process has gotten
under way, to identify the individuals and then provide them with the option of
being deported immediately or sent to prison here," he said.
Freedom Flotilla has incensed people, triggering mass
protests in cities across the world.
Thousands marched in the streets
of Istanbul, London and Amman in Jordan among other cities on Monday, denouncing
the deadly raid on the ships that sought to deliver much-needed supplies to
But Israel has remained defiant with Mark Regev, its government
spokesman, insisting that "Israel was totally within its rights under
international law to intercept the ship and to take it to the port of
He said the people on board the flotilla were not peaceful
"They are part of the IHH, which is a radical Turkish Islamist
organisation which has been investigated by Western governments and by the
Turkish government itself in the past for their links with terrorist
Reporting from Jerusalem, Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland said
Israel's reaction has largely been of defiance.
"Many [Israeli citizens]
have flocked to the port of Ashdod to basically express their rejection of what
they see as the foreign media's negative spin on events.
masters have been going into overdrive, doing their best possible to spin this
event as though the Israeli commandos were not the ones attacking but rather the
attack was perpetrated by people on board," she said.
But Israeli efforts notwithstanding, the country has come
in for strong censure.
Murat Mercan, the head of Turkey's foreign
relations committee, said that activists on board had links to terrorist
organisations was Israel's way of covering up its mistake.
allegation that the members of this ship is attached to al-Qaeda is a big lie
because there are Israeli civilians, Israeli authorities, Israeli
parliamentarians on board the ship," he told Al Jazeera.
"Does he [Regev]
think that those are also attached to al-Qaeda?"
Mark Taylor, an
international legal expert, told Al Jazeera that every state, including Israel,
has the right to self-defence.
"In this case, we're looking at a
humanitarian aid convoy, with prominent people and activists, clearly not a
military target in any way whatsoever."
Israeli media reported that many
of the dead were Turkish nationals.
Hamas, the Palestinian group which
governs the Gaza Strip, said the assault was a "massacre" and called on the
international community to intervene.
The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail
Haniya, urged Arabs and Muslims to show their anger by staging protests outside
Israeli embassies across the globe.