In the early hours of this morning a peaceful flotilla of boats carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza was attacked in cold-blood and with brutal force by the Israeli army. Live video footage taken by humanitarians onboard the ship shows masked Israeli gunmen rappelling from army helicopters onto the deck of the boat where they are then said to have opened fire on the unarmed civilian’s on board.
The attack took place in international waters where the convoy of boats was perfectly within its right to be and where Israel has no sovereignty. The flotilla was approximately 70 miles away from the coast of Gaza when the brutal and fatal assault took place. The Israeli attack has been called an act of extreme piracy. Reports as to the number killed vary. Turkish and Arab news outlets put the number as high as 20 and the number has been escalating over the course of the morning, whereas many Western media outlets will only state that two are confirmed as dead. As many as 80 are confirmed injured and that number is also likely to rise.
Approximately 800 civilians had bravely volunteered to join the flotilla to take urgently needed humanitarian aid to the besieged citizens of Gaza . Volunteers came from 60 countries and included 27 British citizens, as well as humanitarians from Ireland , America , Greece , Kuwait , Turkey , Belgium and elsewhere around the globe. The flotilla was carrying approximately 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid and medical supplies. The ages of those on board range from a child to a man in his 80’s.
Protests have been called for outside Israeli embassies and in front of government building around the world. In London today a protest is due to start outside Number 10 Downing Street at 2pm. The British government has been disappointingly silent. An FCO spokesperson this morning responded to the request for a statement from MEMO by saying only “our embassy officials are seeking urgent clarification into the incident”. They have refused to say anything further despite the immediate condemnation of the act from other governments around the world. Their silence is a shocking reaction to such an unparalleled assault on their own citizens who are stranded at sea injured and possibly killed by the unprovoked Israel attack.
The British media has also been slow to react, with organisations such as the BBC not taking calls from those who are trying to get in touch with them with news from the Palestinians side on this story.