RAMALLAH, May 31 (JMCC) - Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Hanieh
called for the lifting of the blockade
as the only response to the deaths of 15 activists after the Israeli navy forcefully boarded a fleet of boats headed for the Gaza Strip.
He also called on the Palestinian Authority
to halt all negotiations with Israel
Today will be named 'the day of freedom', Haniyeh said, speaking in a news conference just minutes after Israel announced the end of its naval operation. All of those killed and injured are martyrs of the Palestinian people.
Gazans and their leaders had waited expectantly for the arrival of the Freedom Flotilla, the latest in aid convoys sent to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Israel had warned that it would not allow the boats to reach the Gaza coast and warships were reportedly seen leaving Israel's ports Sunday evening.
Haniyeh called on the Palestinian people to demonstrate against the boarding of the six ships and resulting casualties, and for an emergency meeting of the Arab League and United Nations Security Council.
Reportedly, the fleet of ships was boarded by Israel in international waters, causing Haniyeh to ask the United Nations to study what happened in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea this morning.
Israel has said that its forces faced serious resistance, including live fire, and that at least four soldiers were injured.
Israel has enforced a tight closure of the Gaza Strip since 2007, when Hamas
took control of the Gaza Strip. Only certain items are allowed to enter or leave the Strip, and goods like cement, metal and foodstuffs are closely regulated.