Britain deplores convoy deaths, urges restraint
British Foreign Secretary William Hague deplored the loss of life in an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla to Gaza Monday and said there was a "clear need for Israel to act with restraint".
He also urged the Jewish state to lift the "unacceptable and counter-productive" restrictions on aid going into the Palestinian territory.
"I deplore the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza flotilla," Hague said in a statement.
He added: "We have consistently advised against attempting to access Gaza in this way, because of the risks involved.
"But at the same time, there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations."
Hague said the British embassy was in "urgent contact" with the Israeli government, asking for more information and access to any Britons involved.
Up to 19 people died in the Israeli assault on a convoy carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, lawmakers and journalists through international waters towards besieged Gaza.
Hague said it was important to establish the facts about what happened and "especially whether enough was done to prevent deaths and injuries".
But the best response from the international community would be to step up efforts to resolve the crisis in Gaza.
"This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza, in line with UNSCR (United Nations Security Resolution) 1860. The closure is unacceptable and counter-productive," he said.
"There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.
"I call on the government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians."
© 2010 AFP