***(CNN) -- The United Nations Security Council said early Tuesday that it deeply regretted the loss of lives on the humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza and condemned the actions that led to the deaths. "The Security Council deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza," the council said in a statement.
"The council in this context condemns those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and expresses condolences to the families." Israel has placed the number of deaths at nine, while organizers of the flotilla said the number was higher. In a statement adopted by the 15 member nations after an emergency session, the council requested the immediate release of the seized ships that made up the flotilla, as well as the civilians who were taken into custody following the raid.
It urged Israel for consular access so countries whose citizens were passengers of the convoy could retrieve their dead and wounded. And it called for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent" investigation into the incident. The council also said it was gravely concerned at the situation in Gaza, which it called "not sustainable." It stressed the need for regular flow of goods into the territory.
Israel instituted a blockade on Gaza in January 2006, when Hamas won democratic elections in the Palestinian territories. It tightened that blockade in June 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza, but allows about 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid into the territories each week, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said. Since then, Israel has controlled entry of all manner of goods into Gaza, including instant coffee, chocolate and construction materials. Israel has said the latter could be used by Hamas to build bunkers.
The U.N. has described the blockade of Gaza by Israel as the "collective punishment" of the Palestinian people living there. The statement also said the "only viable solution to the conflict is a two-state solution with an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its neighbors." It urged the two sides to avoid "provocative actions." The council began its emergency session Monday afternoon at the U.N. Headquarters in New York to discuss how to respond to the fatal raid. It continued into early Tuesday.
The statement was read by Claude Heller, the Mexican ambassador to the United Nations.
Bien à vous,