World church body condemns Israel's aid flotilla raid
The World Council of Churches on Tuesday condemned Israel's deadly interception of Gaza-bound aid ships, saying it was a flagrant violation of international law.
"We condemn the assault and killing of innocent people who were attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, who have been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007," said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a statement.
"We further condemn the flagrant violation of international law by Israel in attacking and boarding a humanitarian convoy in international waters."
Israeli commandos boarded one of the aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip in the pre-dawn raid on Monday that left at least nine passengers dead and sparked global outrage. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists were also arrested.
The church body urged the Israeli government to repatriate those detained, and for the ships to be immediately released.
It also called for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted.
"It is our considered opinion that the legitimate humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza be met in accordance with international humanitarian law," said the reverend.
"The deplorable events which occurred yesterday off the coast of Gaza remind us yet again of the pressing need for an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories," added Tveit.
The WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches representing about 560 million Christians in 110 countries.
© 2010 AFP