06/01/2010, 00.00
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UN Security Council demands investigation into raid of ships bound for Gaza

The declaration, adopted unanimously, is milder than requested. Turkey had demanded an official apology from Israel and end to the blockade in Gaza. Tel Aviv shows footage where its soldiers are beaten with sticks. Several European countries criticize the excessive use of force by the Israeli military. Nearly 500 activists present on the seized vessels were arrested and it is impossible to speak with them.

New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN Security Council has issued a statement demanding an inquiry into the raid against the flotilla of activists who wanted to force the blockade on Gaza. In the raid - which took place in international waters - at least 9 people were killed, but several activists speak of 19 dead and dozens wounded.

The investigation will be "fast, fair, credible and transparent." The statement is far milder in tone than the requests and debates that preceded it, but was signed by consensus. It also demands the release of all civilians arrested in the operation and that the vessels seized by the Israeli Navy be released.

The emergency meeting was urgently called for by Turkey, since almost all the victims were Turkish. Many Arab countries wanted a stronger condemnation of Israel and in particular an obligation to lift the blockade on Gaza, which has lasted since 2007.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, called the Israeli raid "murder committed by a state" and demanded an official apology from Israel, Beyond the investigation and international legal action against authorities in Tel Aviv, he also asked for an end the blockade in Gaza. Israel was able to demonstrate - through video footage - that some activists struck the soldiers with clubs or bars, and that the mission of the flotilla was "anything but humanitarian."

Several European countries have criticized Israel for using excessive force and have requested an investigation into the facts. In some EU countries - including Spain and Greece, protest against the violence of Israel were held. Even in some Arab countries - like in Iraq - there are demonstrations against Israel.

Meanwhile, the attacked flotilla has been conducted to Ashdod. About 480 passengers (all pro-Palestinian activists) have been detained in prison, another 48 will be expelled during the day. Another 45, mostly Turks, were taken to hospital. Six soldiers also remain hospitalized. The government has imposed censorship on the whole episode and it is impossible to contact the activists.

The detainees are being interrogated by the police. Among them is Kamal Khatib, Chairman of the Israeli Arab Committee and Raid Salah, head of the radical branch of Israeli Arabs. Police and IDF still remain on alert against possible demonstrations. Israeli Arabs have declared a general strike for today.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled a visit to Washington, where he was due to meet President Barack Obama and Canada, where he was visiting, returning to the country.  

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