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Vanhanen, Tuomioja Condemn Israeli Attack

Finland's Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has expressed his incredulity at the attack by Israeli commandos on an aid flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. He added Israel all too often used disproportionate military force. Demonstrators gathered in Helsinki on Tuesday evening to protest the Israeli action.

Matti Vanhanen Image: YLE

In Vanhanen’s view, shooting at civilians on a vessel carrying aid to people was unbelievable.

”Although details remain unclear, the raiding of a vessel in international waters and the killing of civilians is totally unacceptable,” the Prime Minister said.

He added the use of force should be proportionate to the situation and he demanded an immediate explanation from Israel.

”Israel must provide an adequate explanation. Until then, no statement can made about what conclusions should be drawn”, Vanhanen continued. He reminded how painfully Finns had been on the receiving end of disproportionate Israeli military force when a bomb exploded on a UN inspection post.

The chair of the Parliament's Grand Committee, former foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, has demanded that the EU take a tougher line regarding Israel. On Wednesday he told YLE that trade and other ties with Israel should be linked to Israel's regard for international law and commitment to the peace process.

Israeli Ambassador Summoned to Foreign Ministry

On Tuesday, the Israeli Ambassador to Finland, Avi Granot, was summoned to the Finnish Foreign Ministry following Monday’s commando raid on the aid flotilla to Gaza.

Secretary of State Pertti Torstila informed the Ambassador that Finland condemned the use of violence against a civilian convoy in international waters.

Describing the meeting, Torstila said it was not a social call. He added Finland wondered just what Israel hoped achieve by its tough stance. Such action could only lead to a further isolation of Israel, he commented.

Demonstration in Helsinki

Up to 500 demonstrators gathered in Helsinki on Tuesday evening to protest against the Israel action. Many of the demonstrators were Turkish citizens living in Finland.

The protestors accused Israel of murder and demanded a boycott of Israeli products.

They marched to the Israeli Embassy to demand an end to the blockade of Gaza. Police say the demonstration passed off peacefully.