The Australian response

Unsurprisingly, the Greens have issued the strongest condemnation of Israel’s attack:

The federal government has expressed sorrow at the deaths, and was last night trying to make contact with Australians involved in the Gaza flotilla.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, described the Israeli raid as ”shocking”. The Coalition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, said reports of fatalities were ”deeply disturbing”.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: ”We are deeply saddened by loss of life following the incident between the Israeli Navy and a flotilla of vessels carrying aid and protesters attempting to make its way to Gaza from Cyprus.”

Senator Brown said the government ”should require an immediate explanation of the deadly intervention”. He added that the Israeli censors’ blockade of information was unacceptable. ”Israel, along with convoy members, will be judged in the court of world opinion,” he said.

Sonja Karkar, co-founder of Australians for Palestine, said the activists supporting the flotilla had been shocked by the response. ”I don’t think anyone in their right mind would think the Israelis would go to these extremes,” she said.

Ms Karkar said she was watching internet streaming when the Israelis boarded.

”I saw no evidence of any resistance,” she said. ”All the people were in their lifejackets.”

The Israeli embassy in Canberra reiterated the statement of the Israel Defence Forces, that naval personnel had encountered live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs during the interception of the ships.

”As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire,” the statement said.

Ms Bishop said: ”The Coalition urges all sides to exercise restraint and to take no further action that may endanger lives.”

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