“Norway is shocked that Israeli naval forces have shot and killed civilians while boarding a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. I condemn this use of military force against civilians,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
The Israeli authorities have confirmed that at least 10 people were killed during the clash. The number may be higher, and many are reported to be injured. The convoy was on its way to Gaza carrying emergency relief supplies when it was boarded by Israeli naval forces Sunday night, apparently in international waters. The violent clash occurred when the forces boarded the largest vessel.
“The circumstances surrounding this incident and the number of people killed underscore the need for an independent, international investigation. Today I requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure that steps are taken as soon as possible to initiate an investigation to determine whether international law has been violated,” said Mr Støre.
The Secretary-General, who is currently attending a Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the ICC together with Foreign Minister Støre, has himself called for a full investigation.
“To the best of my knowledge, there were three Norwegians on board the convoy. Embassy staff are now in the port city Ashdod to assist the Norwegian nationals who are expected to go ashore there,” said Mr Støre.
The Israeli Ambassador in Oslo was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier today to explain what has happened and to be informed of Norway’s reaction. So far there is little specific information about what actually happened. The Israeli authorities have imposed tight restrictions on the release of information. Israel has defended its actions by claiming that there were suspected terrorists and weapons on board the convoy.
“What is permitted in situations like this one is clearly defined in international law. The rules of international law cannot be set aside for political or military purposes,” said the Foreign Minister.
“The backdrop to this tragic incident is the blockade of Gaza. It is vital that the closure regime imposed on Gaza is lifted so that humanitarian aid and other necessary assistance can reach the Palestinian population,” said Foreign Minister Støre.