Spanish EU presidency condemns Israel for attack on humanitarian aid fleet

17:52, May 31, 2010      

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The Spanish presidency of the European Union Monday condemned Israel for the attack on a fleet of six ships which were carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.

The attack on the fleet, which had sailed from Turkey, was carried out by Israeli commandos and happened in international waters, leaving at least 14 people dead and many more injured.

Spanish Secretary of State for the EU Diego Lopez Garrido has condemned Israel's action, calling it "unacceptable."

"Both the Spanish government and in its role as current president of the EU wishes to express its utmost condemnation of this action," he said.

Lopez Garrido made the comments before attending the inauguration of the Conference of Organizations Specialized in Community Affairs, which is being held in Madrid over the coming days.

"Of course we are going to investigate the affair. It is very serious," he confirmed.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry has also acted quickly and Garrido confirmed that the Israeli embassy in Madrid has been contacted by his government.

"We have asked the Ambassador of Israel to come and give us their explanations. We are going to start work immediately on the question and will make further statement when events are clearer," he said.

Three Spaniards, two activists and a journalist, were known to be on the ships that were attacked, and the father of Manuel Tapiel, one of the activists, explained the desperate situation on the website www.

"At the moment, he is either dead, injured or arrested, because the ships have been detained by the Israeli navy," he said, rejecting Israel's explanation for the attack.

"Israel has accused the fleet of travelling with weapons and that they were going to collaborate with Hamas, but that is a lie. We had meetings with the Foreign Ministry and the United Nations, who supervised the cargo. Nobody with any common sense is going to introduce weapons into a ship with 600 volunteers from 40 countries and which even includes a catholic cardinal," he said.

Spanish President Jose Luis Zapatero also spoke briefly about the incident.

"We don't have any information about them (the three Spaniards) at the moment. All I can say is that the Israeli action is very serious and that we have summoned the Israeli ambassador to give us his explanations," he told the TVE.



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