Maria's statement about the attack on the Freedom Flotilla

June1, 2010: I join the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Stephen Smith, and the international community in condemning the ‘terrible’ and ‘shocking’ Israeli commando attack on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy to Palestine, carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, aimed at breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza. Latest reports indicate that this unjustifiable attack, which took place in international waters, has left a number of people dead, as well as one Australian wounded and two Australians journalists detained. Those on board have been either killed, injured or detained and I support the Minister’s comments that Australia ‘deplores the violence and deplores the deaths’.

I’m certain that reports of the deaths of Turkish nationals will be very distressing for the Australian-Turkish community. Turkey has played a significant role, both in the level of aid given to the people of Gaza and also in their efforts to assist in the development of the peace process. I stand in support of international condemnation of the Israeli attack, and reiterate the Minister’s calls for a full ‘credible, transparent investigation’ into the bloodshed. I am personally appalled by Israel’s attempt to justify and defend what is an indefensible attack on the humanitarian aid convoy, which included parliamentarians from across the world. Israel’s narrative can only be described as being bereft of a sense of reality towards its own obligations and responsibilities in upholding international law and the principles of democracy.

Our thoughts go out to those on board the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy, who were subjected to this aggression. They were there to provide solidarity and support to a besieged population of 1.5 million, eighty per cent of which is dependent on international humanitarian aid – a population that remains unable to rebuild their shattered lives following the December 08/January 09 attack on Gaza.I also sympathise with those people in Israel who so desperately want peace within the framework of international law. It is clear that their government has once again let them down. The international community must now hold Israel to account, not only on this latest incident, but on its continued siege of war-ravaged Gaza - and stranglehold of the West Bank and East Jerusalem - and recognise that its ongoing actions are an inherent obstacle to the peace process.