Sunday

25th Aug 2019

EU calls for 'full investigation' into Israeli attacks on aid convoy

  • The humanitarian ship under attack was flying a Turkish flag (Photo: Tolga "Musato")

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Earlier that day, at least ten people were killed on a Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid as Israeli troops opened fire on the flotilla. The Jewish state claims its forces were attacked with sticks and iron beams. The ship, together with five others, were part of the "Free Gaza Movement", which has already staged similar attempts in the past two years and managed last October to deliver aid to Palestinians.

Israel says that the boats were financed by anti-Israel organisations and that the it found weapons on board the ship destined for Palestinian extremists. Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon regretted the deaths, 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 a dispute between Fatah and Hamas, the two rival Palestinian factions, the latter of which has fired rockets at Israel, divided the two occupied territories. 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.

"I have also taken the opportunity to point out that having visited Gaza, the importance of opening the crossing for humanitarian aid to go through to ensure that ordinary people have a better existence than that which I saw," Ms Ashton added.

But Ms Ashton's stance was deemed too soft by MEPs who have just this weekend returned from Gaza, calling for the international community to "force" Israel to lift the blockade, now that it has claimed the lives of international activists.

"It's good Ms Ashton said she wants an inquiry committee, but this has to be international and total independent," Belgian Liberal MEP Louis Michel said during a press conference. A former EU commissioner for humanitarian aid, Mr Michel spoke of "double standard games" played by member states when dealing with Israel, in comparison to other countries violating international law.

"I remember from my previous experience how difficult it was just to call the EU-Israel association council – a rather ordinary procedure. Maybe if we obtain that, we could move some things," Mr Michel said, in reference to previous calls by MEPs to suspend talks on an EU-Israel association agreement following the Jewish state's attack on Gaza in December 2008 that claimed the lives of at least 1,400 Palestinians.

"Nobody expected a humanitarian flotilla to be attacked by the military of a country claiming to be democratic," Irish Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa said at the same press briefing, noting that Israel last week was accepted as a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a club of world's richest democracies.

It is now up to the member states to press Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza, which is only fuelling more hatred and made Hamas seem a "credible alternative" since the international community was impotent in helping the Palestinians out of poverty and war, added Belgian Social-Democratic MEP Veronique de Keyser.

Member states' ambassadors in charge of security and defence matters were still debating early Monday evening what steps to pursue in response to the Israel attacks.

Several countries, including the UK, Ireland and Belgium, summoned the Israeli ambassador to their capital, while Greece cancelled its participation in a military exercise with Tel Aviv.

Israel's regional isolation is likely to increase after Turkey, reacting to the fact that most of the victims on ship Turkish ship are believed to be Turkish citizens, has withdrawn its ambassador from Israel and also cancelled joint military exercises. Thousands of angry protesters burned Israeli flags in Istanbul on Monday.

Russia Today news channel posted video footage showing Israeli troops storming the Turkish ship on Monday morning.

The Israeli government on Tuesday replied by publishing videos showing its soldiers being attacked with rods and thrown over board.

EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit

The focus at the G7 summit will most likely narrow down to the global economy and foreign affairs, but the EU is also set to make a number of pledges on transparency and fighting diseases.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Analysis

Pentagon: ISIS is resurgent in Syria

The US department of defence warns that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is working on a come back in Syria. It is regrouping and supporting activities. This might trigger a new refugee displacement to Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us