At least 10 people on a humanitarian aid convoy bound for Gaza were
killed by Israeli naval forces that boarded the ships. An Israeli
Defense Forces statement says they met "live fire and light weaponry
including knives and clubs" on the six-ship civilian convoy and
responded with "riot dispersal means," which caused the deaths. At least
four Israeli soldiers were injured. The convoy, which included 1976
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and 11 Americans
including a former ambassador, carried cement, food, and toys in an
attempting to break through Israel's three-year blockade of Gaza.
Political leaders and protesters from around the world are responding to
the attack. Here's what they're saying.
- Why Israel Blockades Gaza The Washington Post's Janine Zacharia explains, "Israel has managed a blockade on Gaza in an effort to isolate the Islamist leadership of Hamas, which took control of the strip of territory in 2007. Israel allows goods to pass into the Gaza Strip but limits, or prevents certain categories, needed especially for construction. Many goods are smuggled into Gaza through underground tunnels from Egypt, creating an overall dysfunctional economy reliant on the decisions of outside powers."
- Gaza Becomes Our Vietnam Ha'aretz's Bradley Burston sighs, "We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege,
which is itself becoming Israel's Vietnam."
- World Powers Condemn Israel The New York Times' Isabel Kershner collects reactions. "Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut short a visit to Latin America to return home. ... Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, called for a full inquiry into the incident and the immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. ... President Nicolas Sarkozy of France called Israel’s use of force 'disproportionate,' while William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said he deplored the loss of life. ... News reports said the authorities in Egypt and Jordan, two Arab neighbors which have peace treaties with Israel, had summoned Israeli envoys to protest the action. The outcry from Muslim leaders was strong and immediate."
A joint statement from Robert Serry and Filippo Grandi, two senior United Nations officials involved in the Middle East peace process and humanitarian aid to Gaza, condemned the raid, which they said was “apparently in international waters.”
“We wish to make clear that such tragedies are entirely avoidable if Israel heeds the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza,” the officials said.
- Clash Comes Day Before Israel-U.S.
Meeting The Hill's Michael O'Brien points out
that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit
Washington on Tuesday. "The incident could also dampen talks between
Netanyahu and Obama on Tuesday, when the two were hoping to set aside
the sometimes frosty relationship that had come to define peace talks
between the U.S. and Israel."
- Will Damage Crucial Israel-Turkey Alliance Crooks and Liars' David Neiwert sighs, "the real casualty of this affair may be Turkish-Israeli relations, which have played a critical role in maintaining the balance of power in the Middle East." Turkey is one of Israel's most important regional partners, but the alliance has endured some recent turbulence.
- Flotilla Organizer Calls Israeli Claims of Self-Defense 'Absurd' Free Gaza leader and flotilla organizer Greta Berlin called Israeli claims that protesters grabbed the commandos' guns "absurd. ... This was murder. They can spin it any way they want. We're the civilians and they are the military."
- Israeli Official Calls Flotilla 'Armada of Hate' The Jerusalem Post reports, "Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon criticized the 'Freedom Flotilla' headed for Gaza on Sunday, saying the anti-Semitic chants voiced by the activists on board earlier in the day showed the 'real motivation' for the campaign, which he termed an 'armada of hate.'" The L.A. Times reports, "after some initial expressions of regret, Israeli officials Monday came out strongly in defense of the raid, characterizing the protesters as hard-core extremists who had prepared an ambush for soldiers."