Norway shocked over Israel’s attack

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Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister said Monday they were “shocked” over Israel’s deadly attack on an international convoy carrying supplies to Gaza. The Norwegian government was calling in Israel’s ambassador and filing a formal protest.

Turkish cruise ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian aid to Gaza, leaves from Sarayburnu port in Istanbul

“We are shocked by the news that Israeli forces have boarded the flotilla, (PicApp photo at right) and that there’s a high number of civilian activists killed,” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told Norwegian news bureau NTB. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was also extremely upset.

Støre is currently in Kampala, attending a meeting of the international criminal court, but said Israel’s ambassador to Norway would be summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Oslo, where he would be expected to explain Israel’s aggression and receive Norway’s formal complaint.

“Israel has put a complete lid on news from the area, which is extremely disturbing, so there are a lot of things we don’t know,” Støre said. “Because of that, the international community should launch an investigation into what has happened.”

The European Union, of which Norway is not a member, said earlier Monday that it was launching a probe, and Støre said he would be meeting with UN officials.

Israel claims the activists on board the convoy shot first, and that its soldiers — who stormed the convoy, shot and killed as many as 20 persons and wounded 30 more –found weapons.

Several Norwegians including a former member of Parliament and other Palestinian supporters had planned to join the convoy, described as an international humanitarian mission, but were prevented from doing so in Cyprus. It’s believed three Norwegians managed to sail, along with a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, a Holocaust survivor and Swedish author Henning Mankell, but their fate was unclear.,

Støre said Norway’s Foreign Ministry hadn’t been able to determine the status of Norwegians on board, but said staff from the Norwegian Embassy in Israel were heading for Ashdod, where the Israeli forces were forcing the convoy to sail, to be of assistance when it arrived.

He said it was still “too early” to say what other reaction Norway might take against Israel. Norway has been active in trying to broker peace in the area for decades.

Demonstrations protesting Israel’s attack on the convoy were planned in Oslo for around 5pm on Monday, and police were boosting security around Israel’s embassy.

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