The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches has condemned the Israeli assault on the Gaza aid flotilla and reiterated its commitment to work for just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel.
In a statement issued today (1 June 2010), the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who took over as WCC chief in January this year, declared:
"It is with great distress that the World Council of Churches received the news that the Israeli naval forces stormed a Gaza-bound vessel carrying humanitarian aid in international waters before dawn on Monday, killing at least 10 civilians and injuring many more. We condemn the assault and killing of innocent people who were attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, who have been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007. We further condemn the flagrant violation of international law by Israel in attacking and boarding a humanitarian convoy in international waters. We pray for all those who are affected by the attack, especially the bereaved families.
"We urge the government of Israel to repatriate those detained by the Israeli army. We call for an immediate release of the impounded ships, and an end to the economic blockade of Gaza. It is our considered opinion that the legitimate humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza be met in accordance with international humanitarian law. We further call [on] the UN Security Council to mandate a full investigation into the assault.
"The deplorable events which occurred yesterday off the coast of Gaza remind us yet again of the pressing need for an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. The World Council of Churches reiterates its commitment to work for just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel."