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World condemns Israel over Gaza flotilla attack (WRAPUP 1)

The international community, presidential administrations and world leaders have strongly criticized the Israeli raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in which at least 10 people were killed.

The international community, presidential administrations and world leaders have strongly criticized the Israeli raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in which at least 10 people were killed.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Israel of state terrorism following the attack in neutral waters on the international aid convoy.

"No matter what Israel says its motives were, what they did was [an act of] state terrorism," he said in a national address on Turkish television adding that Turkey demands immediate release of its vessel which was taken hostage.

The Turkish premier cut his official visit to Latin America short and decided to return to Turkey, as did the Turkish defense minister who was on an official trip to Egypt.

In a statement from Russia's Foreign Ministry published on its official website on Monday, Russia expressed "condemnation and deep concern" over the incident and called for a full investigation.

The ministry also called the use of "weapons against citizens and the seizing of ships in open waters with no legal grounds a gross violation of commonly accepted international legal norms."

It also said the events proved the "necessity of a halt to the Gaza blockade."

World media said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the Israeli attack and called for a full investigation.

"I condemn this violence. It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place," he said at a press briefing after the opening ceremony of the first review conference of International Criminal Court adding that he was shocked by the incident.

"I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation," he continued.

Ban said he instructed a special coordinator to actively engage on the ground in urging restraint in ensuring that no further harm is done and coordinate with all the relevant parties.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold on Monday an emergency session over the incident.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek also slammed Israel over the raid and called for the EU to force Israel via the Middle East settlement international mediators Quartet to lift "the siege on the people of Gaza [...] immediately and unconditionally."

Russia, along with the UN, the United States and European Union, comprises part of the Middle East Quartet of intermediaries for peace efforts.

On Monday, the international community strongly criticized Israeli aggression. EU Foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton demanded a "full inquiry" into the attack and called for "an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that an immediate investigation is needed and supported the participation of international observers in the investigation of the attack.

The Vatican has expressed "deep concern" over the Israeli military operation saying that the Vatican is following the situation with great interest and concern.

Poland has called for Israel to open an independent investigation adding that the country is also strongly concerned over the events.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel when several European countries including Belgium, France, Greece, Cyprus, Sweden, Bulgaria and others summoned Israeli ambassadors for explanations over the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla.

The Arab League said it might recommend Palestinians to halt indirect talks with Israel. It also earlier announced that the organization would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss Israel's "terrorist attack" on the international ships.

German news agency DPA said citing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri as saying that the Israeli attack on the flotilla threatens to spark a war in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is currently in Canada, has cancelled a planned meeting with the U.S. President Obama over a growing international crisis sparked by the attack.

The Israeli military admitted that it intercepted the international aid ship en route to the Gaza Strip in neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish-flagged vessel with hundreds of human rights activists by storm on Monday, killing at least 10.

"It happened in international waters, we confirm this," an Israeli Army spokesman told RIA Novosti, adding: "We did it there because we did not know what was happening on the ships and suspected there were explosives and other weapons on board."

In all, there were six vessels in the flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid.

Israel has confiscated the vessel and is escorting it to the port of Ashdod, and will deport the activists on board, and send the humanitarian aid by land once it has been inspected.

Arab media said 16 people were killed and more than 30 injured when the Israeli military stormed the six-ship Freedom Flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza and 600 human rights activists earlier on Monday.

The Israeli Army's press service confirmed the deaths of more than 10 people, adding that four Israeli commandos had been injured in the attack.

Media said that Turkish, U.S., British, Australian, Greek, Canadian, Malaysian, Algerian, Serbian, Belgian, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish and German citizens were on board of the vessels.

Israel, which has enforced an almost constant blockade against Gaza since the radical Islamic group Hamas took control of the enclave in summer 2007, earlier called the mission a "provocation" and threatened to intercept the ships and deport those onboard.

MOSCOW, May 31 (RIA Novosti)


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