Israel’s raid on aid flotilla and its consequences

The UN Security Council has issued a statement calling for an impartial inquiry into Israel’s raid on a flotilla of Gaza-bound aid ships.

The statement said the investigation should be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent”.

It also condemned the “acts” which led to the deaths of at least 10 civilian activists during the operation.

The raid sparked strong international condemnation and calls for Israel to lift its three-year blockade of Gaza.

The UN statement was reached after hours of discussion as the council deliberated through the night.

In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel’s raid a “bloody massacre” as he addressed parliament.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ordered the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to be opened.

The Egyptian state news agency said it was to allow humanitarian aid through. It is not clear how long the crossing at Rafah will be kept open.

The UN statement was the result of a compromise between Turkey and the United States, with Turkey reluctant to water down its trenchant criticism of Israel while the United States, Israel’s closest ally, wanted to temper the language used, says the BBC’s UN correspondent Barbara Plett in New York.

Turkey is furious at the commando raid, which targeted a Turkish ship and appeared to have killed mostly Turkish activists, our correspondent says.

The compromise took out direct condemnation of Israel and removed references to an international investigation, our correspondent adds.

It also weakened demands for an end to the economic blockade of Gaza that the activists were trying to break, but the incident has refocused international attention on the siege and many states have renewed calls for it to be lifted, she says.

The Palestinian Observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he was disappointed that the language in the final draft of the statement had been softened.

On the request to end the Gaza blockade, Mr Mansour said this was “perhaps the clearest statement by the Security Council requesting and demanding lifting the siege of the Gaza Strip.