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CIVICUS Vehemently Condemns the Israeli Government's Attack on Humanitarian Ships to Gaza

Al-Jazeerah,, June 7, 2010

Johannesburg. 3 June 2010. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation vehemently condemns the attack on humanitarian ships, including the killing of at least nine activists and the wounding of many more, by the Israeli military in international waters on 31 May and calls for the Israeli government to be held accountable under international law.
A flotilla of three passenger and three cargo ships departed off the coast of Cyprus on 30 May 2010 under United States, Greece, and Turkey flags carrying a combined 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian and reconstruction supplies along with over 600 passengers bound for Gaza. In the early hours of 31 May Israeli commandos killed at least nine activists and wounded many others during a military operation to board and seized the six ships en route while in international waters. After taking control, the Israeli military forced the seized ship to the port of Ashdod, approximately 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, from where the hundreds passengers have been detained or deported. Among the activists from Australia, Europe, Israel, Palestine and the United States were an elderly Holocaust survivor, two German members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, and 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland.
CIVICUS supports the unanimous UN Security Council resolution in calling for “the immediate release of the ships as well as the civilians held by Israel” along with “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards”. International law unequivocally prohibits attacks on ships in international waters and the attack on these six ships has drawn widespread international condemnation; nonetheless the United States stands out as one of the few countries that failed denounce the attack outright. The U.S. administration should demonstrate its proclaimed commitment to human rights by ensuring the accountability of the Israeli government to international law.
“The claim of blanket entitlement to act against potential security threats cannot justify the extreme and lethal use of force against unarmed civilian ships and passengers,” said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “Although Israel has a right to self-defense, as do all nations, any defensive act must abide by the basic principle of proportionality; non-violence cannot be met with aggression.”
CIVICUS also calls upon the Israeli government to end the three year blockade on Gaza, which perpetuates a social and economic humanitarian disaster in the territory. The six ships sized on Monday were carrying cement and other building materials that the Israeli government bars; as a result three-quarters of the damage inflicted during Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza in 2008-2009 remains unreconstructed more than a year later. For a population of 1.5 million people, the government of Israel allows 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza each week and according to the World Health Organisation this causes a shortage of medicines and other essential supplies.
CIVICUS calls for the immediate release of the ships and all detained civilians, an immediate, independent investigation to the attack on the unarmed ships and the end of the blockade on Gaza. CIVICUS and civil society worldwide are watching the Israeli government’s treatment of humanitarian voyages to Gaza. Ultimately, all countries, including the United States, should ensure that the government of Israel is held accountable to international law.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. The Civil Society Watch (CSW) programme of CIVICUS tracks threats to civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the world. In 2009, CSW tracked threats to civil society in over 75 countries around the globe.
For more information, please contact:
Devendra Tak, Media and Communications Manager, CIVICUS
Adam Nord, Civil Society Watch Programme, CIVICUS




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