JERUSALEM (RNS) Tens of thousands of Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa on Tuesday (June 1) continued demonstrations against Israel’s deadly interception of a flotilla of ships trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.
Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed on the passenger ferry Mavi Mamara when Israeli commandoes boarded the ship early Monday (May 31) morning. The Mavi Mamara was one of six Turkish ships trying to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Across the Arab world and in Israel — where Arabs comprise 20 percent of the population — angry protestors demanded an end to the blockade. Ishmael Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas, declared a day of mourning. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said the attack “indicates Israel is not ready for peace.”
In Rome, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Agence France-Presse that the Holy See feels “deep sadness and concern” over the flotilla incident, which also injured several activists and seven Israeli commandoes.
In Jerusalem, a group of Palestinian church and community leaders issued a joint statement condemning “the irresponsible actions perpetrated by the Israeli forces against civilian participants of the Freedom flotilla.”
American Jewish leaders tried to fend off criticism of Israel by emphasizing Israel’s repeated efforts to convince the flotilla’s organizers to deliver their cargo to an Israeli port from which it would be transferred to Gaza. They stressed that, according to video taken by the Israel Defense Forces and widely seen on YouTube, it was the activists who first attacked the Israeli commandoes with knives and metal poles.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said the deaths “were the result of a deliberate and unnecessary provocation organized primarily by groups with ties to terrorist entities including Hamas.”
The group expressed “regret” at the loss of life and urged government leaders “to refrain from a rash judgment and to allow the facts to emerge.”
The Orthodox Union said that “as long as Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction, Israel is entitled to treat it as an enemy territory and enforce a blockade against it.”
Although both Israel and Egypt permit essential items to reach Gaza, aid agencies report shortages of food, medicine and building materials.
The U.S. government considers Hamas a terrorist organization.
By Michele Chabin
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.
More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

Millennials are exiting the church at an alarming rate, with many Christians wondering if they will come back on their own or if shifts need to occur to bring them back to the church. A new survey from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that while 57 percent of Millennials consider themselves […]

Franklin Graham reacts to Biden leaving God out of National Day of Prayer address. Biden is the first president to omit “God” from his address on the National Day of Prayer. Many Christians are wondering why the devout Roman Catholic didn’t mention God during the prayer proclamation. No president has left God out of the […]

When super moons happen, many people wonder if the occurrence is a sign of the end times. This claim is only getting stronger as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and other seemingly prophetic signs. April’s full moon is not only pink but also a super moon. The moon will be at its […]

New data says that women are more religious than men but religion experts and women say their relationship to faith is more complicated than the numbers reveal. Rachel Harkins Ullmann was working at a faith-based organization in Baltimore, Maryland, when she became pregnant with her first child. When she told her boss the good news, […]