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Aid ship raid is inexcusable - Tutu

2010-05-31 21:28

Johannesburg – Israel's deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla was "inexcusable", South Africa's Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu said on Monday on behalf of The Elders.

"The Elders described Israel's attack on the aid shipment and the resulting killings and injuries as completely inexcusable," Tutu said, seated alongside former US president Jimmy Carter and former Irish leader Mary Robinson.

The Elders is a group of retired leaders founded in 2007 by South African icon Nelson Mandela.

"They called for a full investigation of last night's incident and urged the UN Security Council to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip," Tutu told a press briefing.

The group said the raid which killed up to 19 pro-Palestinian activists should draw the world's attention to the "terrible suffering" of Gaza's 1.5 million people, half of whom are children.

Meanwhile the South African foreign department condemned the attack and said it was a violation of human rights.

"For Israel to attack these civilian ships in international waters is a gross violation of international law and is deserving of the highest level of international condemnation," said a statement from the department.

The ministry said it was in contact with the South African missions in Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Ankara, where some of the ships originated, in order to obtain more information on the attacks.

"South Africa also trusts that the international community will not leave this latest act of provocation on the part of Israel unresolved due to the seriousness of this action," said the ministry.