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UN Orders Israel to lift Gaza Blockade

By NineMSN

June 03, 2010 "
MSN" - -UN chief Ban Ki-moon has demanded that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately in the wake of a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Speaking on his return from visits to Brazil, Malawi and Uganda, Ban told reporters on Wednesday that the underlying problem behind Monday's tragedy was the long-running, crippling Israeli siege of Gaza which he described as "counter-productive, unsustainable and wrong."

The UN secretary general said Israeli authorities must provide a "full and detailed account" of the commando raid on six ships that tried to break the Gaza siege to deliver some 10,000 tonnes of supplies.

Israeli commandos boarded one of the aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip in a pre-dawn raid on Monday that left at least nine passengers, including four Turks, dead. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists were also arrested.

The Israeli army said the commandos resorted to force after they were attacked with sticks and stabbed as soon as they landed on the deck.

Organisers of the so-called "Freedom Flotilla" denied the military's account, saying the soldiers had started firing as soon as they landed.

Ban said he was looking at "various options" to conduct the "prompt, credible, impartial and transparent" investigation of the incident, which the UN Security Council called for Sunday.

He also noted that the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council earlier Wednesday set up an independent international investigation into the Israeli raid.

"Everything must be done to prevent another incident of this kind," the UN boss said.

"All concerned should act with a sense of care and responsibility, and in accordance with international law."

Stressing the need "to avoid provocations," Ban said the world body raised its concerns about this with international partners and Israeli authorities.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel deported more than 600 foreign activists whose accounts of the raid contradicted Israeli reports that its soldiers acted in self-defence.

Israel rushed to deport the activists after Turkey piled up pressure via the United States and warned of fresh measures against the Jewish state, threatening to further deepen the crisis between the once-close allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile insisted the Israeli blockade was key in preventing weapons from reaching Gaza.

"Hamas continues to arm itself and Iran continues to transfer weapons to Hamas," the premier said.


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