Russia condemns Israeli raid of humanitarian aid ships in neutral waters

Photo: Russia condemns Israeli raid of humanitarian aid ships in neutral waters / Israel

Russia has condemned the Israeli raid on a number of ships in neutral waters that were bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip that led to the deaths of at least 10 people, Russia's first deputy ambassador to the UN said on Monday, RIA Novosti reported.

The Israeli military stormed the Turkish-flagged six-ship Freedom Flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza and 600 human rights activists in neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea earlier on Monday.

Alexander Pankin also expressed his hope that the incident would not avert the continuation of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. He also expressed his condolences to the families of those who were killed during the incident.

"Moscow has expressed condemnation and deep concern in regard to the incident in international waters, first of all taking into account of the large number of dead and injured among the participants of the humanitarian caravan," Pankin said, adding: "It is obvious that using weapons against civilians and seizing ships on the open seas without any legal basis are considered severe breaches in common international legal norms."

Pankin said Russia sees the incident as confirmation of the fact that Israel must stop the blockade in the Gaza Strip and make genuine steps in easing the humanitarian and social situation for the residents of the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is currently in Canada, has cancelled a planned meeting with the U.S. President Obama over a growing international crisis sparked by the attack.

The Israeli military admitted that it intercepted the international aid ship en route to the Gaza Strip in neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish-flagged vessel with hundreds of human rights activists by storm on Monday, killing at least 10.

"It happened in international waters, we confirm this," an Israeli Army spokesman told RIA Novosti, adding: "We did it there because we did not know what was happening on the ships and suspected there were explosives and other weapons on board."

In all, there were six vessels in the flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid.

Israel has confiscated the vessel and is escorting it to the port of Ashdod, and will deport the activists on board, and send the humanitarian aid by land once it has been inspected.

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