By Polly Johnson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
NEW YORK, New York – The United Nations Security Council convened for an emergency session in New York on Monday after an Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza resulted in the deaths of as many as ten people, many of whom were Turkish.
Dozens more were injured in the attack that took place Monday on the Freedom Flotilla – six ships carrying over ten thousand tons of aid and six hundred passengers from more than twenty countries. Organized by the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement, Sunday’s trip to Gaza was to be the final leg of the journey. Even after repeated warnings from Israel not to enter the hostile area, the flotilla entered the Gaza shore. At that point, reports as to who instigated the attack are conflicting.
Israel claims that commandos on board attacked Israelis with clubs, metal rods and knives as soon as they entered the ship. The flotilla’s organizers claim that the Israelis opened fire “on sleeping civilians” upon boarding the ship.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the attack and said that Israel regretted the loss of life. He cancelled a Tuesday meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama to return to Israel.
The attack has not only strained tensions between Israel and Turkey, close allies in the Muslim world, but has caused international outrage and worldwide protests.
At the U.N., Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Israel’s acts were tantamount to “murder conducted by a state.”
The United States expressed concern at the U.N. meeting but also expressed that the facts of the attack were still unclear. Namik Tan, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, called the U.S.’s response, “sort of weak.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for a three-day mourning period across the West Bank.
Turkey, Indonesia, Syria, Russia, Egypt, Britain, Italy, France, Greece, and Sweden, among other countries, have spoken out against the attacks. Said Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minster Bulent Arinc, “this operation will leave a bloody stain on the history of humanity.”
In New York, more than 500 people gathered in Times Square and walked to the Israeli consulate in protest.
The trip was Free Gaza’s ninth attempt at shipping humanitarian aid to Gaza since August 2008. The convoy included items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza.
For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera – Deadly Israel raid on aid fleet – 1 June 2010
BBC – UN members decry Israeli raid on Gaza aid flotilla – 31 May 2010
CNN – Israeli raid met with global protests – 31 May 2010
New York Times – Deadly Israeli Raid Draws Condemnation – 31 May 2010
NPR – Condemnation Follows Israeli Raid on Gaza Flotilla – 31 May 2010
The Jerusalem Post – Turkey demands int’l inquiry c’tee – 1 June 2010