The Security Council today condemned the acts that led to the deaths of at least 10 civilians after the Israeli military yesterday intercepted a convoy of aid ships bound for Gaza, calling for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.”
Dozens of others were also wounded when Israeli forces took control of the six-ship flotilla in international waters, according to press reports. The convoy was said to have been carrying educational, medical and construction materials, as well as hundreds of activists from different countries.
In a presidential statement issued early this morning, the Council said that it “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza.
“The Council, in this context, condemns those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and many wounded, and expresses its condolences to their families.”
The 15-member body called on Israel to immediately release the ships and the civilians sailing on them, allow the countries involved to retrieve their deceased and wounded, and ensure the delivery of the humanitarian aid aboard the ships to Gaza.
The Council stressed that “the situation in Gaza is not sustainable,” again voicing its “grave concern” over the humanitarian situation in the area and emphasizing the need for the regular movement of goods and people.
The United Nations has repeatedly spoken out against the closure of Gaza and raised concern over the insufficient flow of material into the area to meet basic needs and spur reconstruction. Mr. Ban cautioned in a recent meeting that the closure “creates unacceptable suffering, hurts forces of moderation and empowers extremists.”
The Council today underscored that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “an agreement negotiated between the parties,” reiterating that “only a two-State solution, with an independent and viable Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and is other neighbours, could bring peace to the region.”
Voicing support for the proximity talks that started between the two sides last month, the Council urged the parties to act with restraint and avoid unilateral and provocative moves.
Addressing an urgent session of the Human Rights Council today in Geneva, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang expressed shock “that humanitarian aid would be met with such violence, and we unequivocally condemn what appears to be a disproportionate use of force.”
She again appealed for an end to the blockade, causing the suffering of 1.5 million Gazans, which she characterized as “an affront to human dignity.”
Ms. Kang expressed hope that “the Israeli Government will take the necessary decisive actions to demonstrate to the international community a clear commitment to abide by international law.”
In the run-up to yesterday’s incident, which was also condemned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials, Israel had stated it would not let the vessels reach Gaza. The UN urged last week “that all involved act with a sense of care and responsibility and work for a satisfactory resolution.”