News / Middle East

Israel Faces International Criticism for Raid on Gaza Aid Flotilla

TEXT SIZE - +

Israel's prime minister has canceled a visit to Washington following a raid on ships taking aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, which left at least nine people dead.  While a White House spokesman said the United States regrets the loss of life, harsh condemnation of Israel was leveled in the rest of the world.

White House press secretary Bill Burton issued a statement in Chicago, where U.S. President Barack Obama is spending the Memorial Day holiday with his family.

Burton said the United States "deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained" in the Israeli raid.  He added the administration is currently "working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

Despite the cautiousness of the statement, the outcome of the raid is likely to further complicate Israel's relations with the Obama administration.  The White House has already expressed frustration over the Israeli government's positions in the Middle East peace process.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a visit to Washington planned for Tuesday after cutting short a visit to Canada.  In Toronto, Netanyahu said Israeli commandos were ambushed with clubs and knives when they tried to board one of the vessels.  

The Israeli military says it told the activists they would be allowed to supervise delivery of aid to Gaza overland via Israel, after a check for weapons.  Israeli diplomats are arguing that the objective of the flotilla was to boost the Hamas government in Gaza.

But Israel is essentially alone in defending its actions.

In Uganda, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was shocked by the killings.

"It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place.  I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation," he said.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council convened an emergency meeting on Monday.  The Arab League is also planning an emergency session on Tuesday.

The condemnation is harshest in the Middle East.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the killings as a "massacre."  In a joint statement, the Gulf countries called it a "heinous crime."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of committing "state terrorism", while his government summoned the Israeli ambassador for an explanation.  Turkey's flag was flying on the intercepted vessel.

About 10,000 protesters marched in Istanbul.  Anti-Israeli protests have also been held in Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, and as far away as Sweden.  

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for Israel to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza.  Spain and France condemned what they called a disproportionate use of force.

In Italy, the leader of the European Socialists, Martin Schulz, said talks with Israel about closer cooperation with the European Union should be halted.

"I was always defending Israel, I myself and a lot of members of my group, because we had a certain kind of understanding for the difficult position of Israel.  But the Netanyahu government has reacted in a completely inappropriate and unacceptable way," he said.

Germany's foreign minister is calling for an investigation, while being careful not to apportion blame.  Sweden's prime minister stressed that "we still do not know enough" about what happened on the Turkish vessel, but he termed it unacceptable to use violence against a humanitarian transport.

Related video by Ravi Khanna:


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid