ANKARA (AFP) – Israel faced a wave of global outrage over the storming of Gaza-bound aid ships Monday, as Turkey froze military ties, Muslim leaders demanded UN action and protests erupted in many countries.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was “shocked” by the naval assault on a convoy carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists through international waters, while capitals summoned Israel’s ambassadors.
As tens of thousands of people protested across the world, Ban called on Israel to “urgently” explain itself over the raid reported to have killed up to nine people, many of them Turks.
The UN Security Council went into an emergency session at which Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu charged that Israel had “lost all legitimacy.”
“It is murder committed by a state. It has no justification whatsoever,” he said.
Britain, France, Russia and China — four out of the five veto-wielding Security Council members — called for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and for an independent inquiry.
Even the United States, Israel’s traditional ally, hinted that the blockade should at least be eased.
Turkey, the Jewish state’s chief regional partner, scrapped joint war games with Israel and recalled its ambassador, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the raid as “inhuman state terror”.
Tens of thousands of Turks took to the streets, some shouting “Damn Israel!” and demanding “A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, revenge, revenge!”
Besides a “strong condemnation”, the blockade on Gaza should be lifted and the interrupted aid cargo delivered, said Yahya Mahmassani, representing the Arab group at the UN talks.
Washington, Israel’s closest ally, expressed deep regret over the deaths while US President Barack Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it was important to find out “all the facts” as soon as possible.
NATO called emergency talks for Tuesday and said it was “deeply concerned about the loss of life”, while ambassadors from the 27 EU countries condemned Israel’s use of violence, demanding “an immediate, full and impartial enquiry.”
Muslim leaders united in condemning what Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called a “massacre” and Arab League chief Amr Mussa said was a “crime.”
The Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza urged world Muslims to “rise up” in protest, as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the raid as “inhuman Zionist regime action.”
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the raid was “dangerous and crazy”, while Palestinian refugees and activists demonstrated across the country, chanting slogans like “Give us weapons and send us on to Gaza.”
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned Israel’s “use of excessive and unjustified force”, and his counterpart in Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, said the raid “constitutes a criminal act.”
Jordan, the only Arab country other than Egypt to have a peace treaty with Israel, handed Israel a protest note.
The Vatican voiced “deep sadness and concern” and Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair expressed his “deep regret and shock.”
Greece, which had dozens of nationals in the convoy pulled out of joint military exercises with Israel.
The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, called for a worldwide boycott and sanctions against Israel for its “murderous behaviour.”
The pan-Islamic Organisation of the Islamic Conference called on Israel to release all the boats and arrested activists and take action against those responsible for the raid.
Pakistan “strongly condemned” the attack and Kuwait’s parliament speaker said it was a “heinous Israeli crime.”
And Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, said “there was no basis” for Israel’s assault.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, also condemned the violence saying in a statement that it had “produced a high number of victims among the members of the flotilla”.
She called for a full, impartial inquiry.
Several European countries summoned their Israeli ambassadors while Spain — — the current European Union president — slammed the operation as “unacceptable”.
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Israel of a “disproportionate use of force” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had telephoned the leaders of both Israel and Turkey to express her “deep concern”.
British Prime Minister David Cameron described Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as “unacceptable” and urged the Jewish state to “respond constructively” to criticism of its actions.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini condemned a “crude violation” of international law.