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The following is a letter written by Paul Moist, CUPE National President, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging the Canadian government to condemn the brutal attack by the Israeli navy today. Ten people were killed in the attack on a humanitarian aid convoy and dozens are injured.

May 31, 2010

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Re: Israeli attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla

I am writing to you on behalf of the 600,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. It is deeply disturbing to learn that the Israeli navy, in international waters, attacked the humanitarian aid convoy killing ten and possibly more human rights activists and injuring dozens more. It is an outrageous violation of international law and I urge the Canadian government to condemn this brutal attack.

The flotilla of ships was carrying essential humanitarian aid to Gaza including construction material for rebuilding homes destroyed by Israel in Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The International Red Cross has reported that thousands of Gazans are still without shelter because Israel refuses to allow cement and other materials into Gaza. They also note that hospitals are still unable to meet the needs of patients due to a lack of medical supplies.

There were nearly 700 people on board the boats from around the world, including Members of Parliament from a number of nations, and Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire. This mission was undertaken out of concern for the living conditions of the people of Gaza. It is beyond belief that the Israeli navy would act so violently.

The Canadian government must call for the Israeli government to conduct an immediate investigation into this action and to make public immediately the rules of engagement issued to the troops who carried out this lethal attack.  We must know the fate of those on board the vessels and ensure that Israel allow this aid to reach its destination. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Canada it is vital that the Government of Canada convey to him Canada’s condemnation of such a horrific act.

CUPE supports a solution to the ongoing conflict that allows Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace. We condemn all acts of violence which make that peace more elusive.

Canada is in a position to take leadership in working to end the inhumane treatment of the people of Gaza and we are asking our government to do just that.

Yours truly,

Paul Moist
National President
Canadian Union of Public Employees