Israel’s Attack on Freedom Flotilla

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Gaza Freedom Flotilla came under fire early on Monday by Israeli navy forces in international waters more than 150km (90 miles) off the coast of Gaza. The six-ship aid fleet was soon stormed by commandos descending from helicopters.At least 20 people were killed in the takeover of the Gaza aid convoy.

Pakistani envoys seeks US, UN help to track down Gaza-bound Pakistanis

The three Pakistanis -- prominent TV personality Syed Talat Hussain, his producer Raza Mahmood and an NGO, Nadeem Ahmad Khan -- were travelling with the international aid flotilla, carrying aid supplies for Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS-Pakistani envoys in Washington and New York moved quickly, making contacts with senior US and UN officials to seek their help in asertaining the whereabouts of Pakistani citizens, who were aboard a Gaza-bound humanitarian mission, which came under deadly Israeli attack in international waters.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani is in touch with senior White House and State Department officials over the welfare of Pakistanis, an Embassy spokesman said.

The three Pakistanis — prominent TV personality Syed Talat Hussain, his producer Raza Mahmood and an NGO, Nadeem Ahmad Khan — were travelling with the international aid flotilla, carrying aid supplies for Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

Talat Hussain Last Interview

Last Interview of Talat before he went missing. At least 20 passengers have been reported dead and over 60 wounded, Aaj News reported.

In New York, Pakistan’s acting Ambassador to the UN Amjad Hussain Sial spoke to Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar and requested the UN chief’s assistance in ‘ascertaining the whereabouts, safety, security and safe return’ of three Pakistani citizens.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who condemned the Israeli attack, is attending a conference in Kampala, Uganda.

The Chef de Cabinet assured the Ambassador of UN’s full cooperation and assistance in this regard, Pakistani mission spokesman Mian Jehangir Iqbal said.

The acting Ambassador termed the ‘unwarranted and unprovoked’ action by the Israeli forces a gross violation of international law and all norms of humanity.

In Washington, the Pakistani Embassy in Washington Monday established an operation room to coordinate efforts for rescue of the Pakistani citizens.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council met in emergency session Monday afternoon less than 24 hours after Israel’s lethal military operation.

According to diplomatic sources, the Council sought consensus on a statement to condemn the attack. It was not seeking a resolution, which would be binding on all parties involved.

At least nine civilians died and 30 more were seriously injured when the Israeli military boarded the boats which were seeking to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Behind closed doors, all 15 Security Council members were expected to express their views on the bloody Mediterranean incident. Israeli and Palestinian representatives would also be heard, officials said.

Before the session, Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said the attack was a ‘massacre’ and a crime ‘against international law and international humanitarian law’.

He asked the Security Council to order an independent international investigation on the incident. The investigation, he noted, should bring those responsible for the attack before the courts.

The UN in Uganda, also called for a ‘full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place’.

Lebanon’s Nawaf Salam, the Security Council President for May, called the meeting at Turkey’s request. The United Nations headquarters in New York were officially closed Monday, for the US Memorial Day public holiday.

According to the UN Charter, the Security Council is responsible for peace and security around the world.

Protests in Pakistan against attack on Freedom Flotilla

People from all walks of life here on Monday staged protest against Israeli attack on Freedom Flotilla, a boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists and relief goods for people in Gaza.

ISLAMABAD: The pre-dawn Israeli attack on a flotilla which left more than 20 civilians dead brought hundreds of demonstrators to the streets in the federal capital on Monday.

Protestors, including journalists, traders, students, parliamentarians and religious leaders, demanded that Israel be held accountable for its actions.

“What do you expect from a state that even the United States fears and can’t do anything to stop them except use empty diplomatic threats?” Marvi Memon, MNA from PML-Q said.

People chant slogans and raise banners on Monday afternoon to protest against the Israelli attack on a flotilla of ships carrying aid for Gaza

The protestors demanded the international community to sever diplomatic ties with Israel and termed the raid international terrorism.

“Israel should make no mistake that their inhuman behaviour will be dealt with in the severest manner,” a protestor told The Express Tribune.

The protestors were carrying anti-Israel banners and placards and chanting slogans against the Jewish state. Most of the messages on the banners called upon the international community to take notice of this “atrocity” and take the steps to prevent Israel’s “brutal activities.”

A few banners read: “We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the freedom of Muslims in Palestine.”

The Freedom Flotilla, made up of nine ships, was transporting pro-Palestinian activists and 10, 000 tons of aid for the people of Gaza. The fleet also carried television anchor Talat Hussain and producer Raza Agha.

MNA Farahnaz Ispahani of PPP, Senator Mushahid Hussain and MNA Marvi Memom of PML-Q, Senator Enwar Baig, Akhunzada Chattan, Jamaat-i-Islami Leader Liaquat Baloch, Traders’ leader Ajmal Baloch, President Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists Ashfaq Sajid and Kashif Abbasi were some of the people that led the protests in the capital.

Religious party Jamaat-e-Islami also organised a separate rally against Israel on Monday.

They chanted “down with Israel and America” and called for an end to all diplomatic relations with those countries that were “conspiring against Muslim world.”

Thousands of Turks protest against Israeli attack on Gaza aid flotilla

About 10,000 of Turkish protestors gathered in Istanbul on Monday to demonstrate against an attack by Israeli forces on the international Gaza aid flotilla that has killed 20 people, including Turkish activists.

Demonstrators holding flags protest against against an attack by Israeli forces on the international Gaza aid flotilla that has killed 20 people, including Turkish activists,in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, May 31, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Holding Palestinian and Turkish flags, the protestors gathered in Taksim square in central Istanbul, chanting slogans against killing activists who were on board boats carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Some supporters even shouted slogans, calling on Turkish troops to intervene in Gaza against the Israeli army.

They first gathered before the Israeli consulate in the city to protest the Israeli threats against the flotilla that was trying to break a blockade on the coastal enclave.

More protesters soon joined the gathering before the mission located in Istanbul’s central Levent district early Monday soon after midnight local time.

The predominantly-religious crowd of nearly 2,000 demonstrators spilled into the streets, disturbing traffic at one of Istanbul’s busiest streets, and shouted anti-Israel slogans and held up Palestinian flags and Islamic banners.

Police removed the protesters from the foyer of building and back behind the barriers, when news of Israel’s violent intervention against the six-ship relief flotilla reached the protesters.

Vendors in the streets set up stands selling Palestinian and Islamic banners and headbands condemning Israel.

This is just a spark that “will extend from Turkey and spread to the world,” protester Hakan Erden, a 40-year-old advertiser, told Xinhua.

Israel made a huge mistake, according to protester Menderes Arican, a 45-year-old shopkeeper. “It shouldn’t have done this; this is something you don’t do even if you are told to.”

Arican said the attack was the “beginning of the end for Israel, ” adding losing a friendly country like Turkey and being alone in the world was a mistake.

Protestor Ibrahim Dogan, 49, told Xinhua that Israel will now be isolated in the worldwide public opinion, saying that “Israel’s supporters in Turkey and in the world will not be able now to defend it.”

Resat Baser, an official with the Human Rights and Freedoms Humanitarian Aid Foundation, said they had received information that the ships were taken to Israel’s Haifa Port but could not confirm the information.

Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday strongly condemned the attack, warning the move could damage the two countries’ relations.

The ministry has summoned the Israeli ambassador for an urgent explanation of the issue, according to a statement by the ministry.

Israel has been imposing a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip since the Islamic Hamas movement seized control of the enclave by force in June 2007. However, Israel said that in spite of the blockade, it allowed food, fuels and humanitarian aid into the enclave over the past three years.

The flotilla consisted of six ships carrying about 10,000 tons of aid and had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday. It was scheduled to reach Gaza by Monday morning.

The flotilla, originally made up of nine ships from Turkey, Britain, Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria, were carrying cement, water purification systems and wheelchairs. One of the ships had not arrived and two others had been damaged.

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