Pres. Obama Must Condemn Israeli Attack on Humanitarian Convoy, Call for End to Gaza Siege

May 31, 2010

The Freedom Flotilla
The Freedom Flotilla

The Muslim Public Affairs Council today called upon the Obama administration to condemn Israel's deadly attack on a convoy of unarmed international peace activists bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has at least 10 people dead. Media reports indicate over 60 people were also wounded after Israeli Defense Forces descended on the aid convoy in international waters while sailing for the Gaza Strip.

SEE: "Deadly Israeli Raid on Aid Flotilla Draws Condemnation" (New York Times)

SEE ALSO: "Mandela's Nobel-Winning Elders Condemn Gaza Flotilla Attack" (Earth Times)

Named the Freedom Flotilla, and led by the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement and a Turkish organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi (Humanitarian Relief Foundation), the convoy of six cargo and passenger boats is the most ambitious attempt yet to break Israel's three-year blockade of Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement, one of the organizers of the aid, said that Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of one of the ships and "immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians."

In light of this illegal attack which took place in international waters, it is imperative that the Obama administration also demand that the Israeli government lift the three-year-old siege on Gaza.

About 600 passengers were said to be aboard the vessels, including the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire of Northern Ireland, former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. The convoy also had officials from the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, Sweden and England. All captured aid workers and ships should be immediately released, and the bodies of the dead must be returned immediately to their families.

"For what crime were these people attacked and killed?" said MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic. "The killing of the aid workers is a criminal act and the Israeli government should be held responsible for their murder by the Obama administration."

Israel has falsely claimed it is not occupying Gaza, but this event shows clearly that Israel is willing to use deadly force to prevent much-needed humanitarian supplies from reaching the population of Gaza. The collective punishment of Gaza is a war crime, a violation of international law, and a massive impediment to any peace process.

Last year, President Obama presented a major speech on U.S.-Muslim World Relations, a major part of which addressed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If the United States is perceived as silent or weak on condemning the continuous harassment of non-violent humanitarian activists that culminated last night in the massacre on the Freedom Flotilla, then the dwindling U.S. credibility for any peace process will be dealt another major blow.

Many Israeli peace activists have already issued their condemnations. Gush Shalom has called for the lifting of the siege on Gaza. Several European countries and the European Union have condemned the attack. Turkey, considered the most critical strategic ally to Israel in the region, has recalled its ambassador from Israel and the Israeli government is now telling its citizens not to travel to Turkey.


1. Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and the State Department at (202) 647-5291 to urge them to condemn this brutal attack and call for an end to the Gaza siege.

2. Contact the U.S. Mission to the United Nations at (212) 415-4062 and demand that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice vote to support a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel's actions.



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