Barney Frank calls for probe of Israeli raid
 

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posted Friday, June 4, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 23

Barney Frank calls for probe of Israeli raid
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has called for investigation of Israel's raid on a convoy of ships bringing medical supplies to the Palestinian port of Gaza.

Frank's statement on the controversial Israeli raid came in a June 2 interview with the Boston Herald.

At least nine people are known to have been killed by Israeli troops in the May 31 raid on the aid ships. The action took place in international waters, 50-75 miles away from the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Israel claims it was enforcing a legal blockade on Gaza, which it imposed because Gaza is governed by the radical Islamist party Hamas and is used by Hamas as a base for military operations against Israel.

Activists on the ships say the Israeli attack was unprovoked. They claim they were merely bringing supplies to alleviate a dangerous shortage of medicine in Gaza, caused by the Israeli blockade.

The raid has met almost universal condemnation, with the Turkish government labeling it "banditry and piracy." Eight of the nine killed were Turkish citizens. The ninth was a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin.

Making clear he was speaking "as a Jew," Frank said Israeli treatment of Palestinian Arabs "makes me ashamed that there would be Jews that would engage in that kind of victimization of a minority."

Frank said he thought the Israeli military action would prove counter-productive.

"Once you have a combat situation and innocent people die, I mean, you know, look at our problems in Afghanistan, and we have an obligation to try and avoid it," he said.

Frank noted that there were people "howling for Israel to pay a price that don't seem disturbed that North Koreans killed 46 South Koreans by torpedoing a South Korean boat. I think we have a right to ask for some consistency."

Frank hoped that any investigation would be "genuinely impartial."

Jewish community groups expressed anger and surprise at Frank's remarks. Most U.S. politicians who commented on the raid backed Israel.

"They weren't innocent at all, it's pretty clear," Nancy K. Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council told the Boston Herald. "There's something called self-defense and [Israeli officials] have a right to use it. As usual, everyone's jumping on Israel and blaming Israel."

Israeli Consul Nadav Tamir said Israel would conduct the investigation itself.

Almost alone among the world's governments, the U.S. did not immediately condemn the Israel action.

"The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident today aboard the Gaza-bound ships. We are working to ascertain the facts, and expect that the Israeli government will conduct a full and credible investigation," a U.S. State Department statement said.



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