Gaza Freedom flotilla carried world-renowned names and veteran activists
Nobel-winning Elders deplore Gaza flotilla attack
The Elders group of past and present world leaders, including former South African president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on Monday condemned as “completely inexcusable” the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying aid for Gaza.
At least 10 people are reported to have been killed when Israeli commandos raided the boats on Monday in an operation that has drawn international condemnation.
“The Elders have condemned the reported killing by Israeli forces of more than a dozen people who were attempting to deliver relief supplies to the Gaza Strip by sea,” the 12—member group said in a statement issued in Johannesburg, where it met over the weekend.
The group, which was launched by Mr. Mandela on his birthday in 2007 to try to solve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, called for a “full investigation” of the incident and urged the UN Security Council “to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip.” “This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” the group said.
Israel’s three—year blockade of Gaza was not only “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations” and “illegal” under international law, it was also “counterproductive” because it empowered extremists in the Palestinian territory, they said.
The Elders includes six Nobel peace prize winners — former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former US president Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Mandela and Tutu.
Norway’s first female Prime Minister Gro Brundtland; former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former Irish president and ex—UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; Mozambican social activist Graca Machel; Indian women’s rights activist Ela Bhatt; and Algerian veteran UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are the other members.
UN humanitarian chief condemns Israeli attack on Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla
UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- UN humanitarian chief John Holmes on Monday condemned the Israeli attack on a humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza, which left at least 10 killed and called for an early full probe into such an incident.
Holmes. the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said in a statement issued here on Monday afternoon that "As Emergency Relief Coordinator, I condemn this dreadful waste of life over a humanitarian issue."
"Whatever the truth about what happened, which the full investigation called for by the secretary-general should establish quickly, such an incident should never have happened or needed to happen," the statement said.
Just hours earlier, the UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the deadly attack at the request of Arab countries. The emergency meeting, which was called for by Arab states after Israel carried out the attack, was meant to work out a council's response. Lebanon is currently holding the presidency of the 15-nation body.
Israeli navy backed with helicopters attacked early Monday morning the Gaza-bound aid flotilla in the Mediterranean international waters with live ammunition and gas bombs, causing over 10 activists on board killed and over 30 injured.