Unions Condemn Israeli Attack

MUA delegates at the National Stevedoring Conference in Melbourne yesterday joined unions internationally condemning the Israeli attack and bloodshed on the Mavi Marmara aid ship for Gaza

Maritime workers, officials and conference delegates also attended protest rallies in Melbourne, Sydney and London.

Nine people were killed and one Australian citizen was wounded during the Israel's attack on the Turkish vessel on May 31.

"We should condemn this attack in the strongest terms," MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said in his address to the MUA National Terminal Conference in Melbourne yesterday. "This was a humanitarian shipment of food and aid. Israel has not only got the Gaza blockaded off, part of what the they aim to do is starve the people of Gaza out."

Sharan Burrow, president of Australian Council of Trade Unions and the International Trade Union Confederation said that "Australian unions expressed their deepest condolences to the families of killed and wounded, peace activists, including an Australian citizen" and condemned the detention of Australian journalist and photographer along with other Australian citizens.

"The ACTU supported a call by the international union movement for an end to the blockade of Gaza, - Sharan Burrow said - to bring an end to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there".

The International Transport Workers' Federation has also condemned the raid saying it was "shocked and appalled by Israeli forces attack.  The ITF holds the Israeli authorities entirely responsible for the provocative storming of the ship and condemns the harm caused to the civilians on board".

The ITF denounced "Israel's blockade of Gaza and called on the international community to support a political solution in which a viable Palestinian state can play a full part in international trade and commerce."

Meanwhile Lloyds List reports it is still debatable whether the attack made in international waters was legal under international maritime law.

However shipping industry organisations have been united in criticising the Israeli action. The International Chamber of Shipping expressed "deep concern", and insisted that the loss of life was totally unacceptable. The global shipping industry backs calls for an urgent international investigation.

"As a matter of principle, and as enshrined in the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, merchant ships have a right to safe passage and freedom of navigation in international waters, and the high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes. These fundamental principles of international law must always be upheld by all of the world's nations," the ICS said.