- Title: MIDEAST: Palestinians mourn dead of Gaza flotilla
- Date: 2nd June 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RIYAD AZIBDEH RESIDENT OF GAZA SAYING: "What happened is a result of the incompetence of the cowardly Arab countries. They are only scared of stopping the dollars from reaching them. We are in need of political and national support."
- Embargoed: 17th June 2010 13:00
- Topics: War / Fighting,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA15A9RPNV4UT2U6KMJWTWI56H5
- Story Text: Palestinians throughout the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem observed a second day of mourning, on Tuesday (June 1), as called for by the Palestinians President Mahmoud Abbas, following the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza aid convoy.
Israeli police jailed or deported on Tuesday hundreds of international activists arrested aboard Turkish-backed aid ships bound for Gaza in a naval operation that left nine people dead and sparked world outcry.
The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session to discuss Israel's storming of the flotilla, with most members of the 15-nation body calling for a thorough investigation.
"What happened is a result of the incompetence of the cowardly Arab countries. They are only scared of stopping the dollars from reaching them. We are in need of political and national support," Riyad Azibdeh a resident in Gaza told Reuters.
"Many of the world countries condemned what took place yesterday out in the sea, but we say as Palestinians the condemnation does not give anything," Deeb Sukar another resident of the besieged Strip, a refugee originally from Jaffa said.
Big questions were unanswered: notably, how far Israel could continue to blockade 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip after condemnation from allies; and how Israeli commanders miscalculated the situation and dropped marines onto a Turkish ship where they felt they had to open fire to save their lives.
While diplomats worked on damage control, Israel's navy said it was braced to intercept another aid ship, MV Rachel Corrie, that could reach Gazan waters later on Tuesday (June 1) or on Wednesday (June 3).
In West Bank city of Ramalalh, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered flags to be flown at half mast in observation of the mourning over the victims killed on board of the flotilla. An opening ceremony for an annual investment conference was cancelled and recommendations to seek reconciliation with Hamas was agreed upon in Ramallah during a leadership meeting Monday night.
Palestinian residents of the West Bank were generally sceptical of the actions of the UN and the international community citing violations in the past that went without holding Israel accountable.
"I am not surprised also because this is what we are used to have from the Israeli government, in terms of war crime and discrimination, so am not surprised and I expected this to happen," said Husam Abdel Kareem a resident of Ramallah.
"These people they don't care they are throwing all the laws and the entire world against the wall," Ali Mustafa, another resident, told Reuters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, flying home from Canada after cancelling a White House meeting on Tuesday with U.S. President Barack Obama, planned to convene his cabinet on his return to Jerusalem, officials travelling with him said.
Some 700 activists, many Turks but including Israelis and Palestinians as well as Americans and many Europeans -- among them politicians, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and Swedish author -- were processed in and around Israel's port of Ashdod, where the six ships of the blockade-running convoy had been escorted.
They were detained incommunicado, ensuring no contradiction of Israel's version of Monday's events. The military said the nine activists were killed when commandos, who stormed aboard a Turkish cruise ship from dinghies and helicopters, opened fire in what Netanyahu said was self-defence.
The Israeli Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that 50 activists had been taken to Ben-Gurion Airport for voluntary repatriation. Around 629 had refused, and would be jailed while Israel weighed legal options. Some 30 were in hospitals with injuries.
European nations, as well as the United Nations and Turkey, voiced shock and outrage at the bloody end to the international campaigners' bid to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Once-close Muslim ally Turkey accused Israel of "terrorism" in international waters.
Many Security Council members criticised the Israeli action with degrees of vehemence, and said it was time for Israel's three-year-old blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza to be lifted.
Following a 90-minute open meeting, the council went into closed-door consultations. Diplomats said envoys were haggling over the text of a proposed statement by the council, a task that dragged on into the evening.
In Arab East Jerusalem, residents expressed solidarity with Gaza shutting down shops and staging some sit-in strikes in mourning of the events on the flotilla.
"We are the ones besieging Gaza, Egypt and the Arab countries are collaborators with this siege, it would be better to exert pressure on Egypt to open the crossing, it would be better than the United Nations and all these boats," a newspaper salesman, Nabil Dana from Jerusalem told Reuters.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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