Tuesday, 01 December 2020

UN Sec-Gen lambasts Israel’s bloody raid on hapless activists

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his shock at the deadly raid on boats loaded with relief supplies headed for Gaza, calling on Israel to fully explain its actions.

According to media reports, early this morning in international waters, Israeli forces raided the six-ship aid convoy, also carrying hundreds of activists, with more than ten people having been killed.

UN Secretary-General“I condemn this violence,” Mr. Ban said from Kampala, Uganda, where he presided over the first review conference of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place,” he said. “I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation.”

The Security Council is scheduled to meet this afternoon to discuss the incident, and Mr. Ban said that the League of Arab States could also be holding an urgent session on the matter.

Last week, his spokesperson's office strongly urged that “all involved act with a sense of care and responsibility and work for a satisfactory resolution” on the issue of the aid convoy.

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.”

Also speaking out against today's raid was UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who emphasized that “nothing can justify the appalling outcome of this operation.”

Calling for a probe into the incident, she underscored the need for accountability.

“I unequivocally condemn what appears to be disproportionate use of force, resulting in the killing and wounding of so many people attempting to bring much-needed aid to the people of Gaza, who have now been enduring a blockade for more than three years,” Ms. Pillay said.

She called on the Israeli Government to heed the “almost unanimous international view that the continued blockade of Gaza is both inhumane and illegal.”

The blockade, the High Commissioner pointed out, “lies at the heart of so many of the problems plaguing the Israel-Palestine situation, as does the impression that the Israeli Government treats international law with perpetual disdain.”

Without the blockade, she noted, “there would be no need for flotillas like this.”

For his part, Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, said that “Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas.”

He echoed the calls by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for an investigation into today's incident, stressing that it is “essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts.”

Mr. Falk characterized the blockade of Gaza as a “massive form of collective punishment” that is tantamount to a crime against humanity.

“Unless prompt and decisive action is taken to challenge the Israeli approach to Gaza all of us will be complicit in criminal policies that are challenging the survival of an entire beleaguered community,” he said.

Source: UN Security Council.


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