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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Stoltenberg condemns convoy attack

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, deeply shaken by Israel’s military attack on an international convoy carrying supplies to Gaza, said he not only was “shocked” by the attack but demanded that Israel end its blockade of Gaza immediately.

“I am shaken by the news that Israeli forces have resorted to a military attack on civilian activists,” Stoltenberg said at a hastily arranged press conference in Oslo on Monday. “This is completely unacceptable.”

The prime minister called for an “immediate, international and independent” investigation of what happened as the convoy, which sailed from Cyprus on Sunday, headed for Gaza to break the lengthy blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza since bombing the area 18 months ago.

“We condemn this attack, which only proves that the blockade against Gaza must be lifted immediately, something Norway has sought for a long time,” Stoltenberg said.

The prime minister was clearly upset, also over how Israel has tried to control or block information about the attack. Communications with the vessels in the convoy, which Norway has viewed as an international, humanitarian mission, have been cut and the fate of those on board (including several Norwegians) was unclear.

Stoltenberg stopped short, though, of announcing other initiatives that Norway may take against Israel to protest the attack on what he sees as civilian couriers of foreign aid to Gaza. The most important thing now, he said, was to get an investigation underway. European Union officials have raised questions over whether the attack occurred while the convoy was in international waters, in which case it would be “even more serious.”

Israel’s ambassador to Norway was being summoned by the Norwegian government, to receive the country’s formal protest.

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