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:

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora