Israel faces barrage of world criticism in flotilla raid

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The U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution in Geneva calling for an independent fact-finding mission into Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla that resulted in the deaths of nine activists aboard one of the ships.

The resolution condemns Israel for commandeering the ships and calls on Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza, according to reports.

Member countries continued to condemn Israel June 2 during the second day of an emergency council meeting, joining government leaders around the world.

Among those voicing outrage were French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Greece withdrew from joint military exercises with Israel in protest.

The European Union on May 31 called for a comprehensive inquiry into the flotilla deaths and the lifting of the Gaza blockade.

Pro-Palestinian supporters gather outside Spain’s Foreign Ministry during a protest against Israel in Madrid May 31. photo/ap/daniel ochoa de olza

“High Representative Catherine Ashton expresses her deep regret at the news of loss of life and violence, and extends her sympathies to families of the dead and wounded,” said a spokesman for Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session May 31 and in a statement called for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation” into the incident. The council condemned “those acts” that resulted in the deaths and injuries to dozens and called for the release of hundreds of activists who were in Israeli custody earlier this week, as well as for the delivery of the ships’ humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.

The statement also called for an end to the blockade of Gaza and said the “only viable solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement negotiated between the parties and re-emphasizes that only a two-State solution, with an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors, could bring peace to the region.”

Israeli ambassadors in several countries, including Turkey, Spain, Sweden and Greece, were called in to the foreign ministries of the host government and asked to explain the event.

On June 1, Israeli Ambassador Leshno Yaar told the U.N. Human Rights Council that the Israeli soldiers acted in self-defense, resorting to live fire after they were attacked by protesters on the Turkish ship Marmara. “The attack on the Israeli soldiers was beyond all doubt premeditated,” he said.