Palestinian flags wave in Gaza port (foreground) and Palestinians ride a boat in Gaza waters, a day before a flotilla of aid ships is expected to try and sail into the blockaded territory. On Monday, at least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops intercepted the Freedom Flotilla in international waters. Image Credit: AP

The vicious Israeli attack on the peaceful flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza was a crime against humanity. At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops intercepted the Freedom Flotilla in international waters. In a flagrant act of state-sponsored terrorism and piracy, Israeli forces seized control of the ships and detained their crews and passengers.

Israel assaulted an unarmed ship, which had been cleared by Turkish authorities as carrying no weapons. It was sailing under the Turkish flag in international waters, so the attack is a clear act of war.

Gulf News statement on the Israeli naval attack

The Turkish government was right to condemn the attack and to make clear that the Israeli action will cause "irreparable damage". It is essential that all right-thinking nations make very clear to the Israelis that their disgusting brutality is totally unacceptable.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has to be made to understand that its unilateral rejection of peace is a disaster for the region, for the Palestinians, and for the Israelis.

The blockade against the people of Gaza should stop, and they must be allowed to try to find their way back to normal, peaceful lives. The Freedom Flotilla was a valiant effort to get badly needed supplies to the people of Gaza, as over 700 peace activists joined the ships to take food and other non-military supplies into the city.

Media clampdown

Gulf News reporter Abbas Al Lawati was on board the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, and sent his last report at 12.19am on Monday morning: "Three Israeli warships are heading towards the flotilla. Emergency teams are distributing life jackets. Some are seen wearing gas masks. Sirens heard as the warships approach".

Read special coverage of the Freedom Flotilla

The Israelis jammed all signals from the flotilla and imposed a complete media clampdown. No one knows who is alive or dead. No one knows who is uninjured. Everyone on the vessels is in Israeli detention. Gulf News holds the Israeli government responsible for the safety of its reporter.

Israel must be stopped

US President Barack Obama has to take urgent action against Israel for its despicable act, and the entire world should make it clear to the Netanyahu government their abhorrence of the purposeless Israeli killings.

Netanyahu's government has shown time and time again that it cares nothing for peace or justice. It has built more illegal colonies in the West Bank, it has deliberately ratcheted up its rhetoric on attacking Lebanon to create instability and violence, it treated with disdain the current UN plan to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, and it has dismissed earlier Palestinian hopes that full and meaningful peace talks could start.

Yesterday the Arab world was wrong to react so slowly to the Israeli piracy, as statements condemning the Israeli action flowed from many European capitals. The streets in Cairo and many other capitals were empty as demonstrations started or were planned for later in the day in Ankara, London and Washington.

The Freedom Flotilla may not have reached Gaza, but its attempt to reach the city should show the people of Gaza that many people care deeply about their suffering, and are ready to put their feelings into action. Arab governments should follow suit.