World leaders urge Gaza attack probe

World leaders urge Gaza attack probe

World leaders have demanded an independent probe into Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla and the release of their seized citizens, PRESS TV reported.

A day after the onslaught in international waters which left at least 20 activists dead and 50 others injured, nations condemned Israel for what Turkey's prime minister branded "a bloody massacre."

In New York, an emergency session of the UN Security Council called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation," AFP reported.

Turkey said at least four of its citizens were among the dead and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel should be "punished."

"The insolent, irresponsible and impudent attack by Israel, which went against law and trampled human honor underfoot, must definitely be punished," he said.

Turkey, once Israel's main partner in the region, has scrapped joint war games and recalled its ambassador.

Britain, France, Russia and China - four of the five veto-wielding Security Council members - urged Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The outrage that greeted the raid prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call off a visit to Washington and talks with US President Barack Obama.

Nations, including France and Ireland, called for the immediate release of their citizens who were seized in international waters, taken back to Israel and in some cases held incommunicado and denied consular access.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev slammed the loss of life as "absolutely unjustified," while EU president Herman Van Rompuy said the deaths were "inexplicable."

Cuba denounced the "criminal attack," Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez condemned what he said was a "brutal massacre," and the World Council of Churches said Israel had brazenly flouted international law.

China said it was "shocked" by Israel's actions and there have been many public demonstrations decrying the assault in many other Asian countries.

The Muslim world united in condemning what Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called a "massacre" and Arab League Chief Amr Mussa said it was a "crime."

Across the world, tens of thousands of people protested on the streets and several countries summoned Israel's ambassadors. Many demonstrators chanted "Death to Israel!"

The Flotilla was seeking to break Israel's crippling blockade of Gaza and deliver basic necessities to the impoverished Palestinians living in the coastal enclave.

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