Some Jewish groups condemn Gaza-bound activists, while J Street calls on Israeli government to appoint independent commission of inquiry.

The American Jewish Committee on Monday condemned the "Free Gaza" Flotilla for "deliberately provoking a violent confrontation with the Israeli Navy" in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

"This tragedy on the high seas could have been avoided, and we regret the loss of life,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The fact that the flotilla refused to cooperate with Israel’s repeated entreaties to unload their humanitarian cargo in Ashdod for delivery to Gaza proves that violent clashes are exactly what the international supporters of Hamas must have been seeking."

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a similar statement condemning the flotilla for "deliberate and unnecessary provocation organized primarily by groups with ties to terrorist entities including Hamas."

“We urge all governments to refrain from a rush to judgment and to allow the facts to emerge," the statement said.

Meanwhile, J Street, the self-described "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby issued a statement by its president Jeremy Ben-Ami that expressed condolences for the families of those killed and called on leaders in the Middle East to take steps to ensure that the incident would not escalate into a round of violence.

J Street called for the Israeli government to appoint "a credible, independent commission" to "provide the world with a full and complete report into the causes and circumstances surrounding the day's events and establish responsibility for the violence and bloodshed."

J Street also reiterated its opposition to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

"This shocking outcome of an effort to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza is in part a consequence of the ongoing, counterproductive Israeli blockade of Gaza," the statement said. "J Street has been and continues to be opposed to the blockade - believing that there are better ways to ensure Israel's security and to prevent weapons smuggling than a complete closure of the Gaza Strip."


Israeli forces approaching Gaza flotilla

Israel Navy forces approach one of six ships on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010

Photo by: Reuters