News / Middle East

Israel Faces International Criticism for Raid on Gaza Aid Flotilla

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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More