British peace activists today threatened legal action to force an international inquiry into Israel’s storming of an aid flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip.
Thirteen Britons involved in the mission, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish humanitarian campaigners, held talks with the British Foreign Office Under Secretary of State Alistair Burt.
Ismail Patel, 48, from Leicester, chair of campaign group Friends of Al-Aqsa, said the group were “disappointed” at the outcome of the meeting.
“We put it in the strongest terms that the Israeli inquiry is not acceptable to us,” he said, speaking outside the British Foreign Office in central London.
“The Israelis have taken evidence from us. We are greatly concerned that the government is prepared to accept the Israeli inquiry.
“We will push for the government to change its mind. We were disappointed because I don’t think we succeeded in our aims.
“If we cannot convince the government to change its mind, we will use the civil courts to force an international inquiry.”
Mr Patel said cameras and recording equipment taken by Israeli soldiers had yet to be returned, along with other items of luggage and some British passports.
He called on the Israeli Army to return the belongings immediately.
“We will be seeking compensation or the immediate return of our belongings,” said Mr Patel.
Today’s meeting came as Israel agreed to ease its land blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as it sought to calm the international outrage that followed the May 31 raid.
Despite the announcement, few details were released by the Israelis about the nature of the changes it proposed to its three-year blockade.