The United Nations Security Council has condemned “acts resulting in civilian deaths during Israeli operation against Gaza-bound aid convoy,” and called for an investigation, according to a U.N statement. The Council was briefed by a U.N. political official, who reportedly said “bloodshed would have been avoided if Israel had lifted unacceptable, counterproductive blockade”.
In a marked divergence to the more cautious response of the U.S., which called for further investigation to ascertain the facts, member-nations of the U.N., particularly those whose citizens were affected, expressed outright condemnation of the use of force by Israel.
However U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also stressed the need to have a full investigation, a call echoed by the Council which asked for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards”.
A U.N. statement noted that at a meeting on Monday Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, had briefed the Council on the incident, reporting that Israeli naval forces had boarded a six-ship convoy heading towards Gaza. The stated purpose of the convoy was to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza and break the Israeli blockade, he said, making clear the U.N. had “no independent information on what transpired”.
Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said Mr. Ban had stated earlier that he was “shocked” by the killings and injuries on the boats and had condemned the violence.
Among other nations, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu said he was “distraught by the incident, which was a grave breach of international law and constituted banditry and piracy.” He said this amounted to an attack on the U.N. and its values.
“It is our responsibility to rectify this and prove that common sense and respect to international law prevails”.
However the U.N. also noted that Israel's representative had told the Council that though the flotilla was portrayed in the media as a humanitarian mission, it was “anything but.” The U.N. statement quoted the Israeli representative as saying if the flotilla was truly a humanitarian mission, then “the organisers of the mission would have accepted weeks ago Israel's offer to transfer the aid brought on the flotilla through the Israeli port of Ashdod and through the established Israeli procedures”.
He noted that the flotilla's organizers had not only rejected Israel's offer, but they had stated that their mission was not about delivering humanitarian supplies, but about breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza.
Additional statements of regret and in some cases condemnation were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Austria, Japan, Nigeria, United States, Russian Federation, Uganda, China, France, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lebanon.
Mark Lyall Grant of United Kingdom said his country deeply deplored the loss of life on Tuesday and was gravely concerned that Israeli actions should conclude in such a tragic loss.
The U.K. had been in contact with the Israeli government throughout the day and had advised it against such action, because of the risks involved, he reportedly said.
Brutal aggression: Malaysia
P. S. Suryanarayana reports from Singapore:
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Tuesday led a chorus of anti-Israel sentiments in some East Asian countries, whose nationals were among the international volunteers targeted in Monday's Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
Protest rallies were held by pro-Palestinian groups in Kuala Lumpur and also in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Mr. Najib denounced the Israeli action as an “inhumane, brutal aggression” against those “bringing humanitarian aid to beleaguered people of Gaza.”
An estimated 11 Malaysians were said to be among the volunteers. In Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, outlining the available data about the Australians “caught up in this matter,” called for “an easing of the blockade to enable aid and humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Gaza.” He said it might help prevent such terrible events.