Chavez: ‘Israel Committed an Act of War’
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has condemned Israel’s attack on peace activists on a flotilla of ships carrying relief supplies to the Gaza Strip.
Chavez called the attack "an act of war undertaken by the Israeli army against defenseless civilians" who were trying to break through Israel’s "criminal blockade."
"Venezuela will continue to denounce the terrorist and criminal nature of Israel’s government, even as it reiterates, today more than ever, its unbreakable commitment to the fight of the Palestinian people for freedom, national sovereignty, and dignity," he said in a statement issued on Monday.
Venezuela cut its diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009 to protest the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli navy attacked the Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza, in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on Monday, killing at least 20 people on board the six ships, mostly Turkish nationals. About 50 others were injured.
EU Condemns Attack on Flotilla
The European Union has condemned the Israeli attack and called for an "immediate, full and impartial inquiry" into the incident.
"The EU condemns the use of violence that has produced a high number of victims among the members of the flotilla and demands an immediate, full and impartial inquiry into the events and the circumstances surrounding it," ambassadors from the 27 EU countries said in a statement issued in Brussels on Monday.
"The EU calls upon relevant actors to prevent escalation of tensions and underlines the need to continue the proximity talks with a view to resume peace negotiations," AFP quoted the ambassadors as saying.
The EU diplomats voiced concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, adding that the "EU does not accept the continued policy of closure, it is unacceptable and politically counter-productive, we need to urgently achieve a durable solution to the situation in Gaza."
South Africa Censures Israel
South Africa has strongly condemned the Israeli attack and called for a concerted global effort to find a solution to the question of Palestine.
In a statement issued by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Pretoria strongly condemned all military aggression by Israel against innocent civilians, including the people of the occupied West Bank and Gaza, a Press TV correspondent reported.
South Africa has urged Israel to lift its siege of the Gaza Strip, which has caused untold hardship for the ordinary people of Gaza and prompted the international community to organize relief efforts for the territory.
Israel stands solely responsible for the loss of life in the attack on the flotilla, the statement noted.
The statement referred to the UN report written by a team led by former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone which was critical of Israel for carrying out military actions in Gaza with the resultant loss of life of innocent civilians.
South Africa called for a concerted international effort to bring about a broader solution to the question of Palestine, which will ultimately contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.
The statement expressed hope that the international community would seriously address Israel’s act of aggression, which took place in international waters and involved citizens from across the globe.
Anti-Israeli Demos Held in France
Meanwhile, hundreds of French citizens have taken to the streets of Paris to protest against the deadly Israeli attack.
The main demonstration in France was held near the Israeli embassy in Paris on Monday. More protests are planned for the weekend.
The demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, shouted anti-Israel slogans, and expressed support for the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, AFP reported.
The protesters shouted: "Palestine will survive, Palestine will conquer."
Some of them clashed with French police assigned to protect the Israeli embassy.
Anti-Israeli demonstrations were also held in Lille in the north, Strasbourg in the east, and other parts of the country.
Brazil Summons Israeli Envoy
Brazil has joined a host of countries across the world to summon the Israeli ambassador over Tel Aviv’s deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy.
"Brazil condemns, in vehement terms, the Israeli action, given that there was no justification for a military intervention on a peaceful convoy of a strictly humanitarian character," AFP quoted the foreign ministry as saying in a Monday statement.
The statement added that the Israeli ambassador to Brasilia had been summoned to convey Brazil’s "indignation" over the attack to Tel Aviv officials.
The foreign ministry further voiced concern over the fate of a Brazilian woman, Iara Lee, who was on one of the nine ships bound for Gaza.
"Brazil considers that the incident should be the object of an independent investigation that should fully elucidate the facts in the light of human rights and international law," the statement said.
The statement also said "the tragic results of the Israeli military operation showed, once again, the need for the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip to be immediately lifted" and for inhabitants there to be given access to food and medicine.