U.N. calls for probe of activists’ deaths


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United Nations Security Council called for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" into the deaths of nine activists on a Gaza-bound flotilla intercepted by Israel’s Navy.

In a statement released early Tuesday morning following an emergency meeting called after Israel intercepted six ships early Monday morning about 70 miles off Gaza’s coast in international waters, the U.N. Security Council condemned "those acts" that resulted in the deaths and injuries to dozens and called for the release of hundreds of activists still in Israeli custody, as well as for the delivery of the ships’ humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.

The statement also called for an end to the blockade of Gaza and said that the "only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement negotiated between the parties and re-emphasizes that only a two-State solution, with an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors, could bring peace to the region."

The statement voiced concern that the incident occurred during the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians via the United States, and it urged the sides "to act with restraint, avoiding any unilateral and provocative actions, and all international partners to promote an atmosphere of cooperation between the parties and throughout the region."

The statement fell short of calling for an independent investigation, which the United States did not support.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the incident a grave breach of international law and an attack on the United Nations and its values.

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, told the council that the dead should be mourned "as martyrs of Palestine." He promised that the fleets would continue to come until the blockade against Gaza was ended.

“What kind of humanitarian activists demand to bypass the United Nations, the Red Cross and other internationally recognized agencies?” asked Dan Carmon, deputy head of Israel’s mission to the United Nations. "What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and other weapons to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law?” 

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