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NEWS: Ban Ki-moon calls for international investigation of raid on Gaza-bound ships

CBC.ca reports today that, “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has proposed a multinational commission to investigate Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed…”

The Canadian Press explains that, “Last Monday, Israeli commandos intercepted the Mavi Marmara, part of a six-vessel convoy carrying mostly Turkish activists. The raid quickly turned violent. Nine Turkish activists were killed and dozens wounded.”

The Guardian UK reports that the nine killed were: Cengiz Alquyz, 42; Ibrahim Bilgen, 60; Cegdet Kiliclar, 38; Furkan Dogan, 19; Sahri Yaldiz; Aliheyder Bengi, 39; Cetin Topcuoglu, 54; Cengiz Songur, 47; and Necdet Yildirim, 32.

CBC adds that, “The head of the inquiry would be former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, an expert on maritime law… Other members of the panel would include representatives from the United States, Israel and Turkey.”

The Globe and Mail reports that, “The outrage over the deaths has also prompted calls from many countries, including the United States, for at least a partial lifting of a blockade…”

“(Now) the grave diplomatic fallout from the raid has Israel reconsidering its Gaza blockade, imposed in 2007 after Hamas overran the territory.”

“Israel argues that a blockade is necessary to keep weapons and other military components out of the hands of Gaza militants who have attacked Israel with bombs, rockets and mortars for years.”

The Globe and Mail adds that, “(Israel) had also hoped the blockade would weaken Hamas by deepening the privation in already impoverished Gaza.”

Amnesty International Canada says, “It is imperative that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza without delay, as it is a form of collective punishment in contravention of international law and primarily affects the most vulnerable among the population.”

Canada and the European Union are presently negotiating the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, but differ strongly on the issue of Gaza and the blockade.

Last week the Globe and Mail reported that, “Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has demanded a full inquiry about the circumstances in which the deaths occurred, and called for ‘an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.’”

The Toronto Star reports that, “As much of the world reacted with dismay and condemnation, Canada’s Conservative government took a wait-and-see approach to news of Israel’s deadly storming of a humanitarian flotilla in international waters.” Harper said in a statement that, “Canada deeply regrets the loss of life and the injuries suffered. We are currently looking for more information in order to shed light on what exactly happened.”

CBC also reports that activists in Montreal are “collecting money for the Free Gaza Movement and hope to fund a joint Canadian-Quebec flotilla of their own in the coming months.”

CBC Radio has reported that the Turkish prime minister wants to be on another aid ship bound for Gaza. They report this aid ship would be escorted by the Turkish navy.

MV Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie

On Saturday morning the MV Rachel Corrie was also seized by the Israeli navy in international waters. It had been part of the original convoy stopped on Monday but had been delayed due to mechanical problems.

Who was the ship named after?

Rachel Corrie spent the last month of her life assisting water workers in the repair of two water wells in the Tel al Sultan district of Rafah, Gaza.

The Canada Well had been constructed four years earlier with Canadian International Development Agency funding. Along with the El Iskam Well, they supplied more than 50 percent of Rafah’s water before being damaged.

On March 16, 2003 she stood between an Israeli army bulldozer and a house being demolished. She was killed when the bulldozer crushed her. Corrie, an American, was just 23 years of age.






For last week’s campaign blog on this situation, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3727.

To sign the Avaaz.org petition ‘Investigate the raid, end the blockade’, go to http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_flotilla_4/?cl=592072104&v=6411.