31 MAY 2010
By Valentina Pop
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The EU on Monday asked Israel for a full investigation after its troops killed at least ten people and injured dozens on board a Turkish vessel, part of an international humanitarian flotilla trying to pass through a maritime embargo on the Gaza Strip.
"I have spoken to minister Lieberman, the foreign minister of Israel. I expressed our deepest concern about the tragedy that has happened. I have said there should be an immediate inquiry by Israel into the circumstances," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said during a press conference in Warsaw where she was meeting the Polish foreign minister.
Earlier that day, at least ten people were killed on a Turkish ship carrying tons of humanitarian aid, as Israeli troops opened fire when reportedly attacked with sticks and iron beams. The ship, together with five others, were part of the "Free Gaza Movement" flotilla which has already staged similar attempts in the past two years and managed last October to deliver aid to the Palestinian inhabited region.
Israel claims that the flotilla was financed by anti-Israel organisations and that the it found weapons on board the ship, which were destined for the Palestinian extremists. Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon regretted the human losses, but accused the convoy of a "premeditated and outrageous provocation", describing the flotilla as an "armada of hate."
Israel and Egypt have been blocking access to Gaza since June 2007, when the Hamas movement, which has continued to launch rockets at Israel, took control of the Palestinian territory. The Israeli government allows some humanitarian aid to access Gaza, but the United Nations estimate that this represents less than a quarter than what is required.