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Israeli attack on aid convoy again draws worldwide attention to Gaza (Wrapup)

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The humanitarian crisis which hit the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli blockade once again came into focus on Wednesday with many states calling for a lifting of the embargo in connection with the recent deadly attack on a humanitarian aid convoy

The humanitarian crisis which hit the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli blockade once again came into focus on Wednesday with many states calling for a lifting of the embargo in connection with the recent deadly attack on a humanitarian aid convoy.

The Israeli military stormed the six-ship Freedom Flotilla, carrying some 10,000 tons of aid and up to 700 human rights activists to Gaza, in neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday. The operation claimed the lives of at least 9 people. Arab media reports put the death toll at close to 20.

Egypt and Israel closed their border crossings with the Gaza Strip after Hamas seized control of the enclave in June 2007. The blockade has led to a drastic deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israel says the blockade and the country's attempts to prevent it being breached are "an act of self-defense in the face of Hamas' continuing aggression."

LOST LIVES DRAW ATTENTION

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday expressed his regret that lives had to be lost to draw worldwide attention to humanitarian problems of the Gaza Strip.

"To my deep regret, blood needed to be spilled to draw international attention to the intolerable plight of the Gaza people," the Russian foreign minister said.

He expressed confidence that the world community would now pay closer attention to the proposals put forward by the Middle East Quartet of negotiators, comprising the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

"We have sent special humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip, and we will continue such aid in the future," he said.

"INHUMANE BLOCKADE"

The Turkish parliament on Wednesday unanimously adopted a declaration urging "the speedy abolishment of the inhumane blockade and embargo imposed on Gaza."

"This attack is a blatant violation of the UN Charter and the international law. In this respect, the Turkish parliament expects the Security Council to adopt as soon as possible a resolution condemning Israel and imposing sanctions," parliament said.

Parliament also urged the Turkish government "to review political, military, trade and economic ties with Israel and take the necessary effective measures."

It also expressed its support for the premier's initiative to establish an independent international commission to investigate the circumstances of the attack.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier in the day his country would begin talks with the UN on establishing an international commission to probe Israel's attack.

"All countries are equal in the eyes of international law, no one has the right to put themselves above others," Davutoglu told journalists.

GAZA REFUSES TO ACCEPT AID

Authorities in the Gaza Strip refused to accept humanitarian cargo seized by Israeli authorities during their deadly attack.

At least seven truckloads of goods seized when the Israeli military stormed the Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea are currently waiting for the permission to enter Gaza on the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the coastal enclave.

"Firstly, Israel should release all the detained [activists], secondly, it must ask the cargo owner, Turkey, what to do next. If Turkey agrees to transport the cargo to Gaza by land, we will be glad to receive it. If it doesn't, we will respect their decision," said Ziad al-Zaza, economy minister in the Hamas government.

"We are not going to communicate with the Israelis on the issue," he added.

"BOLD DECISIONS" NEEDED TO END CRISIS

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said that during his forthcoming visit to the United States he will ask President Barack Obama to make "bold decisions" regarding the Middle East peace settlement.

"During our meeting in Washington, I will tell him that bold decisions are needed to change the situation in the region," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier in the day that providing humanitarian assistance to the people in the Gaza Strip should not "undermine" Israel's security.

"The president affirmed the importance of finding better ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza without undermining Israel's security," the White House said in a statement.

The Arab League has said it may recommend that Palestinians halt U.S.-backed indirect talks with Israel over the attack.

ATTACK PLANNED TO CUT AID "ONCE AND FOR ALL"

Palestinian ambassador to Moscow Fayed Mustafa said that by attacking the international convoy, the Israeli government planned to stop humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza "once and for all."

"Only one thing can be done to avoid such things in the future: the global community must establish an international commission to investigate this attack, to carefully study all details of the operation, find those guilty and bring them to an international trial. If Israel is again forgiven by the international community, it will carry out such acts again," he said.

"This operation was not an accident; it was carefully planned. It involved various forces and Israeli departments, who held numerous separate and joint meetings to discuss the details of the operation," he added.

The Israeli authorities deny the operation was planned and say violence broke out during a routine customs check.

BLOCKADE TO CONTINUE DESPITE CRITICISM

Despite criticism from the international community, Israel will continue its blockade of the Islamist-run Gaza Strip from the sea, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"Gaza has a terrorist government sponsored by Iran. That's why we try to prevent military cargoes from being delivered there, be it by land, sea or air," Netanyahu was quoted as saying at a cabinet meeting.

"Opening the sea route to Gaza would mean subjecting our nationals to great danger. That's why we continue the sea blockade and check vessels... The world criticizes us for this, we are being pressed, but we must understand this policy is vitally important to ensure Israel's security and its right to defend itself," he said.

Following Monday's incident, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered to open the Rafah crossing on the border with Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid and open access for those who need medical treatment.

MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti)

 

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