The “Freedom Flotilla,” a group of six ships carrying much-needed supplies for Palestinians, was attacked today by the Israeli military. Initial reports say as many as 16 unarmed activists were killed, and dozen more wounded. It seems that Israel’s disregard for the international community and human rights law is becoming more and more pronounced.

You can find an extensive compilation of information on the flotilla raid here and here, courtesy of the Gaza Freedom March and the US Campaign to End the Occupation.

From UN expert Richard Falk’s press release:

The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, urged Monday the international community to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of some 16 unarmed peace activist, when Israeli armed commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to Gaza.

“Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas,” Mr. Falk said. “It is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts.”

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu cancelled plans to meet with Obama in Washington this week. The attack comes just as long-delayed indirect talks between Israel and Palestine were getting underway.

From the US Campaign’s site:

The reaction of the Obama Administration to Israel’s attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla, which included U.S. citizens, has been tepid. A White House spokesperson stated that he “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained.”

Of course, this statement completely ignores U.S. complicity in arming Israel and enabling its human rights abuses. In July 2008, the United States signed a contract worth $1.9 billion to transfer the latest-generation of naval combat vessels to Israel at U.S. taxpayer expense. Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel this budget year.

The raid is also expected to worsen relations between Israel and Turkey. And you can learn more about the history of the human rights situation in Palestine from Falk’s site.

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