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U.N. Security Council meets on Israeli raid

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Israeli troops storm Gaza flotilla
  • NEW: U.S. official says flotilla should have observed blockade
  • U.N. Security Council holds emergency meeting on Israel's storming of Palestinian flotilla
  • Turkish Foreign Minister accuses Israel of murder conducted by a state
  • Israeli diplomat says flotilla was not a humanitarian mission, as portrayed in the media

New York (CNN) -- Israel faced condemnation and questions Monday at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting called by Turkey on the Israeli military's storming of a six-ship flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists headed to Gaza with aid supplies.

At least nine activists died in clashes that injured seven Israeli soldiers. Israel contends the flotilla intended to break its blockade of Gaza, while Palestinian leaders and allies said Israel launched an unprovoked military assault on civilians.

"No state is above the law," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at the start of the meeting, adding that "Israel must be held accountable for its crimes."

Davutoglu called the Israeli assault "piracy" and "murder conducted by a state." Turkey helped arrange the flotilla bringing relief supplies such as medicines and building materials.

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Before the meeting, the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador, Riyad Mansour, called for the Security Council to launch an independent investigation of the incident.

Q&A on Israel's Gaza blockade

Mark Lyall Grant, the British U.N. ambassador, said Israel should end its blockade of Gaza and take all steps necessary for a full investigation of flotilla incident.

"There is an unambiguous need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with its international obligations," Grant said. "Given the number of casualties in this incident, Israel now bears a responsibility to provide a full account of what occurred, what efforts were made to minimize the loss of life, and why the death toll was so high. It will be particularly important to establish especially whether enough was done to prevent deaths and unnecessary injuries."

Grant called the blockade of Gaza "unacceptable and counter-productive."

However, the U.S. deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, said the relief aid being transported to Gaza should have gone by accepted international mechanisms set up because of the Israeli blockade.

"These non-provocative and non-confrontational mechanisms should be the ones used for the benefit of all those in Gaza," Wolff said. "Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances."

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Wolff echoed Grant's call for renewed negotiations on a comprehensive peace agreement to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking last, Israel's deputy permanent U.N. representative, Daniel Carmon, challenged the media portrayal of the flotilla as a humanitarian mission, saying it was instead a mission to breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza.

"If indeed it were a humanitarian mission, it would have accepted, weeks ago, during the planning stages, the offer by the Israeli authorities to transfer the aid, through to the port of Ashdod, to Gaza through the existing overland crossing, in accordance with established procedures," Carmon said.

Carmon said Palestinian activists included members of the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief, known by its Turkish acronym IHH, which he said had links to terrorist organizations al Qaeda and Hamas.

"They are not peace activists; they are not messengers of good will," Carmon said. "They cynically use a humanitarian platform to send a message of hate and to implement violence."

Carmon called Israel's maritime blockade a "a legitimate and recognized measure" as part of an armed conflict at sea.

There is an unambiguous need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with its international obligations
--Mark Lyall Grant, the British U.N. ambassador
  • Israel
  • Gaza
  • Turkey
  • Hamas
  • United Nations Security Council

"When it became clear that the protest flotilla intended to violate the blockage, despite the repeated warnings, Israeli Naval personnel boarded the vessels and redirected them to Ashdod," Carmon said. "Unfortunately, the soldiers boarding one of the ships, were violently attacked with life threatening means; live ammunition, knives, clubs, deck furniture and others types of weaponry.. ... The intention was clear, to lynch the Israeli soldiers, and I hope the media will document this."

He added: "Without any doubt, the soldiers acted in self-defense."

"The results of last night's events are tragic and unfortunate, and Israel deeply regrets any lose of innocent lives," he said. "But it cannot compromise its security."