Given the news of the attack and deaths of activists on boats in international waters outside Gaza today, please see below an update on the situation, the human rights calls, what we are doing to respond and some background on the situation.
On the 31st of May at least 10 activists on boats protesting the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip were killed by Israeli armed forces. Israeli forces appear clearly to have used excessive force. Israel says its forces acted in self-defence, alleging that they were attacked by protesters, but it begs credibility that the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops could have been justified. It appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed. The activists on the ships made it clear that their primary purpose was to protest against the continuing Israeli blockade, which constitutes a form of collective punishment and so a breach of international law.
Amnesty International is calling for an international inquiry into the deaths caused by the raid on the aid flotilla in international waters outside Gaza today. Given the international nature of this incident and the continuing lack of credible Israeli investigations into violations of human rights in the context of the Gaza conflict, there is also a need for an immediate international investigation. The Israeli authorities have the primary responsibility to investigate the use of lethal force by its forces, as well as the claims by Israeli officials that Israeli forces were attacked with a range of weapons. But for full credibility and transparency, Israel should invite the relevant UN experts to carry out an investigation into the events of 31 May. (http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23120/).
Currently, Amnesty International has issued media releases from the IS and made them available on our site. Contact has been made with Crisis Response coordinators in AI UK and AI USA. AI UK has developed an online action directed at their Foreign Secretary (http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=699). Also, a letter is being drafted to be sent from Claire Mallinson to Stephen Smith outlining our calls. Moreover, assessment of actions planned for capital cities and groups involved is being done, to see if we can support/connect with them, with potential to provide a statement from us to be read out at these events. We keep on checking with IS about any plans for a global action, which will possibly depend on the outcome of the special session of the UN Security Council which is currently underway.