Washington, D.C. (June 1, 2010) – I am deeply shocked and saddened by reports that at least 10 civilians have been killed, with dozens more injured, in a raid as Israeli armed forces intercepted a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies and construction materials to the people of Gaza. I extend my condolences to the families of those killed and I wish a full and rapid recovery to all injured parties, including both participants on the flotilla and Israeli soldiers.
Israel should grant the detained and injured individuals immediate access to their families and to legal counsel. Israeli authorities should also disclose where the injured have been hospitalized.
Leaders on all sides should take immediate steps to ensure that this incident does not escalate into a broader round of violence in the region.
This tragedy did not need to happen. This event is the result of the ongoing, counterproductive blockade on Gaza. The blockade punishes ordinary citizens, and strengthens Hamas’ control over commerce. I am concerned for Israel’s security and an undernourished and unemployed Gazan population does not promote this goal.
There should be a full investigation by responsible parties regarding how this incident occurred.
As President Obama stated last year in his speech in Cairo: ‘Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society…the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security.’
I urge President Obama and other international leaders to take this tragedy as a catalyst to end the blockade on Gaza. All parties must come together to move toward a durable peace in the region.
Fifth District of Minnesota