Breaking: State Department "Regrets Loss of Life" in Free Gaza Flotilla Violence, Calls on Israel to Conduct "Full and Credible Investigation" Israeli PM Cancels White House Visit - Phones President Obama

UPDATE: State Department Spokesman P.J,. Crowley just released the following state on administration reaction to the Free Gaza Flotilla gunfire, deaths and injuries.

"The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident today aboard the Gaza-bound ships. We are working to ascertain the facts, and expect that the Israeli government will conduct a full and credible investigation.

The United States remains deeply concerned by the suffering of civilians in Gaza. We will continue to engage the Israelis on a daily basis to expand the scope and type of goods allowed into Gaza to address the full range of the population's humanitarian and recovery needs. We will continue to work closely with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, along with international NGOs and the UN, to provide adequate access for humanitarian goods, including reconstruction materials, through the border crossings, while bearing in mind the Government of Israel's legitimate security concerns. However, Hamas' interference with international assistance shipments and work of nongovernmental organizations, and its use and endorsement of violence, complicates efforts in Gaza. Mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by governments and groups that wish to do so. These mechanisms should be used for the benefit of all those in Gaza.

Ultimately, this incident underscores the need to move ahead quickly with negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive peace in the region."


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled his meeting with President Obama at the White House Tuesday, deciding to head home to Israel to deal with an on-going situation involving Israeli Defense Forces storming a ship in an aid flotilla convoy organized by a Turkish human rights organization that was heading towards the blockaded Gaza strip.

At least 10 people were killed when Israel's forces boarded the ship.

White House spokesman Bill Burton initially addressed the incident this morning saying, "The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

Since then, the two leaders have spoken on the phone and agreed to re-schedule their visit.

"This morning between 10:00 and 10:15 AM CDT, the President spoke by phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said he understood the Prime Minister's decision to return immediately to Israel to deal with today's events. They agreed to reschedule their meeting at the first opportunity. The President expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded, many of whom are being treated in Israeli hospitals. The President also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled visit the White House in June. That will be the first time the two leaders have met at the White House since Obama took office.

Netanyahu was already in North America, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.