Monday, May 31, 2010
Israel envoys summoned across Europe
Greece, Spain and Sweden have summoned Israeli envoys to explain a deadly strike by Israeli navy commandos on a Turkish-sponsored humanitarian Gaza aid convoy.
The Greek foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that it had summoned Israeli ambassador, demanding an "immediate" report on the safety of about 30 Greek citizens on board the boats targeted in international waters before reaching the Gaza Strip.
The foreign ministry said it asked for "immediate information concerning the safety of Greek citizens on board the boats... and stressed the need to take the necessary measures to ensure their security," AFP quoted the statement as saying.
Meanwhile, the Greek defense ministry announced Athens's decision to withdraw from joint military exercises with Israel in protest at Israel's raid which reportedly killed some 20 people and left more than 50 injured.
In Sweden, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt expressed concern over the reported casualties and said it was crucial to "quickly establish" what had happened with the Gaza-bound flotilla which was carrying pro-Palestinian activists and tons of humanitarian aid.
"We have summoned the Israeli ambassador to get information," said Bildt, who is currently visiting Italy, adding he had also been in touch with the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to ensure that the EU gives a "clear response during the day when we get a clearer picture of what has happened."
Spain, who holds the rotating EU presidency, also summoned Israel's ambassador for an explanation for the deadly raid on the six aid ships, aboard which were at least three Spanish aid workers.
In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle voiced "deep concern" at the reports of deaths caused by the Israeli attack on the aid convoy.
"The initial news is alarming," said Westerwelle, adding German officials were seeking more details into the incident.
The aid convoy Gaza Freedom Flotilla, co-organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), was carrying tens of thousands of humanitarian aid for the blockaded Gaza Strip, and had more than 700 Palestinian and international activists onboard.