Region | Palestinian Territories

Palestinians, Arabs demand probe of Israeli raid on Gaza aid flotilla

New boats headed to Gaza to challenge blockade as the UN Security Council calls for an impartial probe of a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy

  • Agencies
  • Published: 15:20 June 1, 2010
  • Gulf News

Demonstrators hold Palestinians flags in Brussels
  • Image Credit: Reutes
  • Demonstrators hold Palestinians flags during a protest in front of the Israeli embassy in Brussels on May 31, 2010.
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Occupied Jerusalem: Israel on Tuesday began the process of deporting more than 600 pro-Palestinian activists who were brought ashore after a deadly navy raid on an international aid convoy heading for Gaza.

The move came hours after the UN Security Council, Palestinians and Arabs called for an impartial investigation of Israel's deadly raid on Gaza aid ships and after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran has information that Israel plans to launch a "massive attack" on the territory.

"We have precise information it has planned a massive attack against Gaza to make up for its past defeats," Ahmadinejad said in a public speech in the city of Ilam.

In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak ordered the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza in response to the attack on the aid flotilla, Mena reported.

International reaction to Israeli attack on Freedom Flotilla

Meanwhile, Israel's senior interior ministry official, speaking on army radio, said an initial wave of more than 40 foreign activists were on their way to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv to be repatriated.

"A total of 686 passengers were on board the intercepted boats, and of that number 45 are on their way to be deported," said Yossi Edelstein. "Those who agreed to be deported have been taken to Ben Gurion."

Others who refused to identify themselves have been taken to a prison in the southern city of Beersheva, he said.

Those who had not agreed to be deported would be brought before a judge who would decide whether or not to prosecute them. If no charges were pressed, they would be deported within 72 hours.

Activists on the doomed flotilla had come from 38 different countries, most of which did not have diplomatic relations with Israel, Edelstein said.

As well as the Europeans, there were activists from Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Algeria and Pakistan along with a large number from Turkey.

Some 480 activists were being held in Beersheva, while the remaining hundred or so were on Tuesday still at Ashdod port, where the six aid ships were brought after the pre-dawn operation.

Another 45 activists, most of them Turkish, are being treated in various hospitals across Israel.

Video: Protests in Gaza


Call for an investigation

Earlier, the UN Security Council is calling for an impartial investigation of Israel's commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and condemned "acts" that resulted in the loss of lives.

After an emergency meeting and marathon negotiations, the 15 council members agreed on Tuesday on a presidential statement that was weaker than the initial demand by the Palestinians, Arabs and Turkey for an independent investigation.

Text of the UN Security Council statement

They had called for condemnation of the attack by Israeli forces "in the strongest terms" and an independent international investigation.

But the presidential statement called instead for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." The condemnation did not name Israel.

UN rights council to hold urgent debate

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council will hold an urgent debate on Tuesday on Israel's military attack, a spokeswoman said.

The request was tabled by Arab League and Organisation of the Islamic Conference states.

New challenge

Meanwhile, the organiser of the Gaza aid flotilla said they are sending two more ships to the area within the next few days.

Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement said that a cargo boat is already on the way to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. She said that a second boat carrying about three dozen passengers is expected to join it.

Criticism inside Israel was spreading on Tuesday about the botched raid, which killed at least nine activists.

Read special coverage of Gaza aid mission

Israeli officials said about 50 of the 671 activists aboard the flotilla have been taken to Israel's international airport for deportation. They say others have refused to identify themselves and will remain in detention.

Public radio earlier reported that Israel has detained 487 pro-Palestinian activists captured in its deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla and will expel 48 others.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians and Arabs, backed by a number of council members including Turkey, have called for Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza, immediately release the ships and humanitarian activists, and allow them to deliver their goods.

Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco said in his briefing to the UN's most powerful body that the early morning bloodshed on Monday would have been avoided "if repeated calls on Israel to end the counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza had been heeded."

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country had been a longtime Muslim ally of Israel, called the raid "banditry and piracy" on the high seas and "murder conducted by a state."

He urged the council to adopt a presidential statement circulated by Turkey. Many of the activists aboard the ships were apparently Turks.

Blog: Sailing to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla

While the Palestinians and Turks insisted that those on the ships were humanitarian and human rights activists, Israel's deputy UN ambassador Daniel Carmon said "this flotilla was anything but a humanitarian mission."

Some activists have "terrorist history" and its organizers support radical Islamic networks such as Hamas, which controls Gaza and refuses to recognize Israel's existence, he said.

He called the results "tragic and unfortunate."

Regret, shock, concern

As the Vatican voiced "deep sadness and concern" and Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair expressed "deep regret and shock" at the loss of life, capitals across Europe summoned Israel's ambassadors to explain the assault.

Read special coverage of Gaza aid mission

Ankara responded with fury, recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv and warning the assault would have "irreparable consequences" to bilateral ties.

Police held back angry crowds shouting "Damn Israel" outside Israel's missions to the country, as Turkey accused Israel of a "flagrant breach of international law," and "disregard for human life and peaceful initiatives".

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc also said plans for three joint military exercises with Israel had been scrapped.

Greece, which had dozens of nationals in the convoy, pulled out of joint military exercises with Israel and cancelled a visit by its air force chief, as an aid group claimed that commandos in helicopters had fired on a Greek vessel.

Israel said its troops were attacked after they stormed six ships loaded with thousands of tonnes of aid and with hundreds of activists aboard, and that both sides used live fire.

Muslim leaders united in condemning what Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called a "massacre" and Arab League chief Amr Mousa said was a "crime".

The Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza urged world Muslims to "rise up" in protest, as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the raid as "inhuman Zionist regime action".

Comments (22)

  1. Added 18:07 June 1, 2010

    Wow, to see people so ignorant and in complete denial like Keith and Steve! You would think westerners living in the Middle East would be a little more open minded and aware of world issues. Neither of you obviously has a clue of the plight of the Palestinians and their oppression by the terrorist regime of Israel!

    Michelle W., Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 17:33 June 1, 2010

    This shows how powerful Israel is and how the western nations and the Arab world are incapable of capping the Israeli state terrorism. The Arab governments if they stay together and act in unison then Israel can be stopped from acting unilaterally. Even the UN security council cannot pass a resolution 'condemning' the cowardly act!! What a shame!!!

    Ashy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 17:15 June 1, 2010

    Steve, You would never do that when someone has hijacked your home along with your family and handover the aid to the hijacker to be distributed to your beloved one. Unfortunately, even after getting first hand information about the plight of palestinians you are supporting the agressors. Shame on you steve

    Syed, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 17:10 June 1, 2010

    IF IT WAS NOT DONE BY ISRAEL I THINK IT WOULD BE MORE CONDEMANABLE BUT I THINK AS IT WAS DONE BY FRIEND OF THE U.S. SO NO PROBLEM

    kesar, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 16:44 June 1, 2010

    Once again Israel flouts international laws and norms,without fear of retribution, if they lifted the 3 year blockade of Gaza as required under international law, their would be no need for aid flotillas. one of those detained is a personal friend of mine and is a normal guy who decided to try and help. May the Israleis be brought to book for this atrocity.

    M. Seddiqi, Manchester, United Kingdom

  6. Added 16:30 June 1, 2010

    HAMAS is not terrorist. Gaza belongs to Palestine not Israel so why we should give goods in the hands of his enemies.

    Sajjad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 15:59 June 1, 2010

    Well, if Israel has such an approach towards Palestine then no need for any aid shipment to come from outside.

    Sayed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 15:55 June 1, 2010

    Israel should transport the aids to GAZA..Wow !! why did they BOYCOTT GAZA in the first place if they are really concerned about the well being of GAZA citizens .The Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla members would not have been on this mission to supply aids to GAZA on the first place .Children are dying due to supply shortage...where is humanity !!!

    Nabeel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 15:52 June 1, 2010

    Did any one notice these israelies are asking for Humaterian enqury against Srilankan Govt, Shame all the Arab Countries are keeping silent. When you speakup,We can call this as real terrorism, UN,EU will say its a selfdefence, if Israelies kills school students in palestine students will be called as Terrorism so sad, They are filling people heart with irritated, if any one support this people they will be panished by US .... Shame shame where is International Law, is it only to support US & Isreal?

    Sabir Mohammad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 15:42 June 1, 2010

    Mr. Steve how much you are sure that Israel will give this aid to Gaza. The West will not support Gaza because they are big supporter of Israel and on the back of Israel is America. what will be the reaction of America or west if any Muslim country do the same what Israel do?

    Shakir, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

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