The Israeli Navy has attacked the flotilla of civilian vessels attempting to bring food and supplies to Gaza. It seems that at least ten persons were killed, and dozens more wounded or injured.
According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, (see story here), President Obama has said through spokesman William Burton that “The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy”.
And, PM Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled his imminent trip to meet President Obama.
The UN’s Ben Ki-moon is quoted as saying “…I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation”, and France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has expressed “profound shock”.
The attack took place in international waters, and hundreds of European nationals are involved, including two members of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament. It seems the attack was carried out by Israeli commandos.
This has been building up for quite a few days now, with over seven hundred people on a number of ships vowing to break through the Israeli siege of Gaza.
The “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza, and the massive and disproportionate loss of life caused by Israeli forces there last year, have been described as flagrant and massive violations of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It has been suggested that the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.
Killing civilians on the open sea is assuredly an act of war; it will be interesting to see if the Europeans, and anyone else who cares about decency and the rule of law, will have the guts to take a stand on this blatant high-seas piracy and murder.