U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon late Wednesday issued an urgent appeal to prevent another violent incident off the Gaza Strip coast, seeking to defuse an escalating situation.
His remarks came amid confirmation by the Free Gaza Movement that another ship was headed to Gaza within two weeks - the Irish cargo ship MV Rachel Corrie - to break Israel’s blockade.
On board are former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday and Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a Free Gaza spokesperson told the German Press Agency dpa.
Mr. Ban met with the ambassadors of Israel, Turkey, the Arab countries and the Security Council’s five permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - to discuss the way forward following the Israeli raid of a relief ship on Monday which left at least nine people dead.
Mr. Ban noted that the U.N. Security Council had condemned the incident and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva had authorized an investigation.
“In view of these decisions, I am consulting about the way forward with the concerned parties, including the Security Council,” Mr. Ban told reporters.
“The Israeli authorities must provide, as soon as possible, a full and detailed accounting of the events surrounding the incident, including information on the detained, wounded and killed,” Mr. Ban said. “I am relieved to learn that most of the detainees and injured are returning home today (Wednesday),” he added.
“Everything must be done to prevent another incident of this kind,” he said. “All concerned should act with a sense of care and responsibility, and in accordance with international law.
“At this sensitive time, it is essential to avoid provocations.
The U.N. has raised its concerns about this with international partners and the Israeli authorities.” He told reporters he needs to discuss further with U.N. members about ways to launch the investigation.
Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, president of the 15-nation council, said earlier that the body expected Mr. Ban to take up the investigation.
Mr. Ban himself had called for the investigation immediately after Israeli commandos boarded one of the six ships in international waters carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza.
The council issued a statement early Tuesday, condemning the violence and calling for an investigation that is “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent.” But the United States’ envoy, Alejandro Wolff, said he understood that the investigation should be carried out by Israel.
“Many governments said there is a need for an investigation and the council expects the secretary general to undertake it,” Mr. Heller told reporters, admitting that there may be some ambiguity in the council statement.