KUALA LUMPUR - At least nine Malaysian volunteers and two members of the media were on board the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, which was attacked by Israeli Navy off the Gaza coast yesterday morning. As at press time, their fate remained unknown.
They were among 17 Malaysians who were taking part in the "Freedom Flotilla", which was sending aid and pro-Palestinian activitists to Gaza. There were six ships in the flotilla and Mavi Marmara was the lead ship.
The other six Malaysians on the mission are on the Rachel Corrie ship and they are reported to be safe.
The vessels are carrying 5,000 tonnes of reconstruction materials, school supplies and medical equipment to the Gaza Strip.
Israeli naval commandos raided the ships while they were in international waters after ordering them to stop 130km from Gaza's coast.
Malaysia, which joined the international community in condemning the attack, said the assault in international waters was a flagrant and serious breach of international law.
In a statement issued here late yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman demanded that Israel immediately cease its excessive and inhumane treatment of the activists and called for the immediate release of the innocent people and the ships.
He also called for the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to consider the criminal act of Israel against humanitarian activists and pressure Israel to immediately lift the inhumane blockade on Gaza.
"The government of Malaysia offers its deepest sympathies and condolences to families of those killed and injured in this untoward incident.
"The government and people of Malaysia also share the pain and anguish of the bereaved families of the slain activists and our thoughts and prayers are with them in this hour of grief. May God grant them strength and fortitude in facing this tragedy."
The ministry said it was closely monitoring the devel opments as there were Malaysians on board the vessel.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in condemning the attack, called on the international com munity to take action against Israel.
"The Israelis used force on a totally unarmed ship. This is a ridiculous action on a non-combatant ship that carried no weapons.
"This is against humanitarian practices. They should not block the supply ships that carried, among others, wheel chairs, medical aid and building material for homes," he told a press conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya yesterday.
He rubbished claims by the Israeli authorities that those on the ships had sharp objects with them.
"What do they mean by sharp objects? Knives or pencils?" he asked.
Dr Mahathir, who is Perdana Global Peace Organisation chairman, said the raid as a "clear message to the world of the inhumane act by the Israelis".
"They can do anything they want, break any international law without care and they will be protected by certain people."
Read more: 11 Malaysians on board Turkish vessel attacked by Israelis http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/11MalaysiansonboardTurkishvesselattackedbyIsraelis/Article/#ixzz0pYd7iSpg