Queensland Churches Together (QCT) deplores the violence that left at least nine activists dead and many injured by Israeli elite forces that intercepted a ship carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza on 31st May. The violence took place in international waters.
QCT supports the United Nations Security Council’s call for an impartial investigation into the violence.
In a media release of 1st June Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), also called for “a full investigation and a decisive response from the United Nations Security Council”.
The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has called on Israel to undertake a comprehensive and independent inquiry into the incident and provide its findings to the UN Security Council. QCT supports the call for an independent inquiry but believes that any investigation instigated by Israel could not fulfil the condition of impartiality demanded by the Security Council and would thus be inadequate.
Immediately following the incident Israeli sources began publically to link some of the activists on the Turkish ship with terrorist groups. This is a serious allegation, one which could have major repercussions not only for the activists but also for Israel. The organizers have emphasized repeatedly that the aims of the exercise were to bring humanitarian assistance and highlight the plight of the people of Gaza. It is impossible at this stage to tell whether among the hundreds of non-violent activists there were a few who were prepared to use violence. Only a full and independent international investigation can uncover the real picture.
QCT stresses that no matter what the outcome of this investigation, the use of force by the Israeli interceptors in international waters is a matter of extreme concern.
QCT supports the position of Act for Peace in calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza: “The Australian government must denounce the United States (US) and European Union EU)-supported blockade of Gaza and take up the issue with their US and EU counterparts. As a policy designed to restrict Hamas’ capacity to function after its election win three years ago, it has utterly failed and cause a humanitarian crisis in which Palestinian civilians bear the brunt… The 3-year blockade of Gaza has left 70% of Gazans living on less than $1 a day, with many urgent humanitarian items either delayed or banned altogether” (Executive Director of Act for Peace, Alistair Gee).
The incident occurred during an international World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel promoted by the World Council of Churches.
This statement has been approved by the following members of Queensland Churches Together:
The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane
The Antiochian Orthodox Church
The Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane
The Greek Orthodox Church
The Lutheran Church of Australia, Queensland District
The Queensland Congregational Fellowship
The Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod