Israel explains its action on Gaza boats to India

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New Delhi, June 1 (ANI): A day after India issued a strong statement that deplored the indiscriminate violence committed by Israeli defence forces on six flotillas heading towards the Gaza Strip with humanitarian assistance, Israel's Ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, visited South Bloc on Tuesday to explain his country's action to senior Ministry of External Affairs officials.

"We have today interlocuted with the Indian authorities, explained our position, heard the position of the Indian authorities," Sofer said, but refused to divulge details of the discussion, saying it should remain within the diplomatic ambit.

Sofer said the meeting with Indian officials revolved around the Israeli action, but said it was fixed before the incident. He said that he was neither "called nor summoned" by the Ministry of External affairs.

On Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a strong statement in which it said: "India deplores the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn."

The statement further went on to say: "We extend our sympathies to the families of the dead and wounded. It is our firm conviction that lasting peace and security in the region can be achieved only through peaceful dialogue and not through use of force."

Israel is in the line of fire over the attacks on boats carrying aid from the closest of its allies such as the United States, the European Union and Russia.

Turkey, which shares relatively good relations with Israel, recalled it ambassador.

Strong reactions have also come from Pakistan and Iran.

The U.N. Security Council has also joined the chorus of condemnation and held a more than 12-hour long emergency meeting in New York to review the matter and its impact on world developments.

After due deliberation, a UNSC resolution was passed to probe the incident. The UNSC also demanded the release of the captured boats and the people still onboard.

"We interlocute with our friends, we explain, there is greater understanding with our friends in the international community, we are interlocuting and explaining , there is a lot more greater understanding going on that, including here in India, and you look at the condemnation coming from Iran and Pakistan, its involvement in international terrorism, we see it in India. Its not something which is secret, we ask ourselves how the world comes to such a hypocrisy when countries of such nature are condemning Israel," said Sofer.

Israel maintains that its action was one of self defense and claims that its soldiers were lynched and beaten up with metal rods by people on one of the ships.

Israel intercepted the six ships carrying some 10,000 tonnes of aid to the isolated Gaza Strip, which has been under a blockade by Israel for the last three years.

Tel Aviv claims that it had warned the occupants of the flotillas not to breach the blockade before the ships set sail from Cyprus on Sunday and offered to take some aid in for them.

Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against the militant Hamas in January 2009. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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