Israeli force on flotilla 'disproportionate': Sarkozy

31st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday accused Israel of a "disproportionate use of force" in its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Sarkozy "condemns the disproportionate use of force and sends his condolences to the families of the victims," the Elysee presidential palace said in a statement.

"All light must be shed on the circumstances of this tragedy which underlines how urgent it is to relaunch the peace process."

Israeli naval forces stormed six ships bound for besieged Gaza with thousands of tonnes of aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists aboard. Up to 19 of the passengers were killed, according to Israeli media.

France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was "deeply shocked" by the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla and insisted "nothing can justify the use of such violence".

"We do not understand the still provisional human toll of such an operation against a humanitarian initiative that had been known about for several days," he said.

"The incident happened in an intolerable way in international waters," Kouchner added later, addressing reporters on the sidelines of a France-Africa summit in Nice.

An association of Jewish groups in France, CRIF, said it "deeply deplored" the killings and warned that they threatened the prospects for a resumption of Middle East peace talks.

"It happened at a moment when there were hopes for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It is not good news for peace," one of the leaders of CRIF, Haim Musicant, told AFP.

Kouchner reiterated his stance that the Israeli blockade of Gaza should be lifted.

"The current situation in Gaza is not tenable," he said in his statement.

"We will take all necessary measures to prevent this tragedy from leading to a new escalation in violence."

© 2010 AFP

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