China has condemned Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip in which at least nine people were killed and dozens wounded. "China is appalled and condemns the Israeli navy's attack on the Turkish fleet shipping humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement late Monday.
Beijing's condemnation of the Israeli raid contrasts with the cautious position it has taken amid rising tensions between its neighbors. China has expressed no support for proposed UN sanctions against ally North Korea over its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship.
"China urges Israel to abide by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council in every detail, and improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip," Ma said.
In Monday's pre-dawn high seas operation, Israeli forces intercepted six ships carrying around 10,000 tons of aid for the isolated seaside territory. Many of the activists aboard the ships were Turks.
The Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel for three years, with Egypt's cooperation. The Israeli government had urged the flotilla not to try to breach the blockade before the ships set sail from waters off Cyprus on Sunday and offered to take some aid in for them.
Israel said the activists attacked its commandos as they boarded the six ships taking tons of supplies to Gaza, while the flotilla's organizers said the Israeli forces opened fire first. While Beijing is not traditionally a heavyweight in Middle East diplomacy, China in recent years has become more active, seeing stability in the Middle East as helping to secure the oil and gas imports the Chinese economy relies on.
China has previously criticized the Israeli government's move to expand Jewish settlements in the part of Jerusalem claimed by Palestinians, saying it poses new obstacles to the Middle East peace process.