TUs’ condemnations of Israeli forces attack on the Feegaza Flotilla

Israel: Killings at Sea an Outrage

International Trade Union Confederation

Press Releases

31 May 2010

The ITUC condemns the killing of as many as 19 persons in a boat convoy headed for Gaza today, and the wounding of many more, as an outrage. A full, open and independent enquiry is needed to establish the precise details of what took place when Israeli soldiers boarded vessels in the convoy, which was organised to bring supplies to Gaza. Those responsible for violations of international law must be brought to justice.

The ITUC expresses its deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, and its hope that all those injured will fully recover.

“This appalling development underlines once again that violence and confrontation will not bring peace and justice to Palestinians and Israelis. The only acceptable way forward is through negotiation based on commitment on all sides to renounce violence. Given that the Israeli authorities have apparently said that the supplies in the convoy will in any case be taken into Gaza, the world can only wonder why this happened in the first place. In any case, meeting a humanitarian convoy with military force is unacceptable,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The ITUC also repeats its call for an end to the blockade of Gaza, to help bring an end to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.

The International Federation of Journalists

IFJ Condemns Gaza Attack and Demands International Inquiry after Reports of Media Casualties

31 May 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today reacted with shock at the news of the brutal attacks on civilians, including journalists, by Israeli forces in the assault on a flotilla that yesterday tried to breach the military blockade of the Gaza coastline in Palestine.

The IFJ said that reports of casualties - including possible deaths of media staff - were unconfirmed and a curtain of secrecy drawn around the incident by the Israeli authorities was increasing anxiety among friends and relatives.

The IFJ is calling for an urgent and comprehensive international investigation into the incident and for the information blackout to be lifted.

“We join the European Union in demanding a full inquiry which must be independent in order to be credible. We condemn any attempt at the blackout and censorship of news by the Israeli authorities which is hindering journalists from giving an accurate account of what is happening,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.

The IFJ believes that up to 100 journalists and media staff from a number of different countries were on board when the attacks took place, according to Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. He said the IFJ is fully investigating the incident and plans to raise the issue at a special meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council planned for Geneva on Friday.

The IFJ is also writing today to the Israeli government warning them about their responsibility vis-à-vis the security of the journalists on the flotilla and is asking its member union in Israel to take the matter up with the authorities.

“The international community must respond immediately to this outrage,” said White. “The rights of journalists in conflict zones have been particularly highlighted by the United Nations and members states cannot stand by when one state acts in a reckless and dangerous manner.”

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide

International Transport Workers’ Federation

ITF condemns Israeli attack on aid ship

31 May 2010

The ITF, which represents professional seafarers worldwide, is shocked and appalled by Israeli forces’ attack this morning on the lead ship of a humanitarian aid convoy, the Turkish vessel “Mavi Marmaris”, killing at least ten people.

The ITF holds the Israeli authorities entirely responsible for the provocative storming of the ship, and condemns the harm caused to the civilians on board, who included peace activists and parliamentarians from many different countries.

With the rest of the international trade union movement, including the ITUC, the ITF is calling for a full, open and independent enquiry to establish the details of what took place when Israeli soldiers boarded vessels in the convoy.

The ITF denounces Israel’s blockade of Gaza and calls on the international community to support a political solution in which a viable Palestinian state can play a full part in international trade and commerce, which would include the full restoration of transport links.

“The ITF has been working with Israeli and Palestinian transport unions to improve the situation. We can only see this as a very serious setback” said David Cockroft, ITF General Secretary

COSATU condemns Israeli state piracy

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is outraged at the murder by Israeli commandos’ of at least twenty people - and injuries to a further 60 - as a result of their armed attack on a convoy of ships carrying aid to the people of Gaza last night, 30 May 2010.

COSATU sends its condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives and calls upon the people of the world to condemn this act of Israeli state-sponsored piracy.

The six-ship flotilla, with 750 Palestine Solidarity activists from around the world on board and carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid for the people of Gaza, left Cyprus on Sunday and had been due to arrive in Gaza today.

Then, when it was about 64 km out to sea, in international waters, Israeli armed forces boarded the largest vessel and fought with those on board. The activists say Israeli troops came on board shooting. Israel is now reported to be towing the boats to the port of Ashdod and says it will deport the passengers from there.
The ships were bringing the people of Gaza 10,000 tonnes of badly needed concrete, toys, workbooks, chocolate, pasta and substantial medical supplies. It was acting in accordance with international law.

COSATU fully supports the call on the international community to pressure their governments to condemn this brutal deed and hold Israel accountable for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid.

The federation welcomes the decision by the government of Spain and Sweden to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel and calls upon the South African Government to follow their lead.

The flotilla was an international response to the plight of the people of Gaza, following Israel`s closure of the border. Amnesty International in their Annual Human Rights Report concluded that the siege has “deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.”

The United Nations has continuously stated that only a fraction of the required aid is entering Gaza due to what it calls ‘the medieval siege’. John Ging, the Director of UNRWA in Gaza, has specifically expressed the need for the flotilla to enter Gaza.

The European Union’s new foreign affairs minister, Catherine Ashton, has just reiterated its call for, “an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.”

COSATU also calls for greater support for the international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against Israel, which is proving again to be violent and ruthless in attacking and murdering those who stand in its way. We urge all South Africans to refuse to buy or handle any goods from Israel or have any dealings with Israeli businesses.

COSATU reaffirms its support of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to national sovereignty and the same human rights as any other people. We demand the immediate end to the Israeli siege and the illegal occupation of the sovereign territory which has been violently seized from the Palestinian nation.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions

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