The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
Foreign Minister John Baird "strongly" urged activists seeking to bring
humanitarian aid to residents in the Gaza Strip to do so through
"established channels," AFP reported Monday.
The top Canadian diplomat called
attempts to breach the blockade the IDF maintains on the strip
"provocative" and not helpful to the "people of Gaza."
Ban calls on Mediterranean countries to stop Gaza flotilla
Turkey warns of 'necessary response' to flotilla violence
The IDF is preparing for the arrival of a protest flotilla that is set to try
and break the blockade on the Gaza Strip in late June. The flotilla organizers
announced on Sunday that the ships will sail, despite UN Secretary- General Ban
Ki-moon request to the contrary.
While the government has yet to make a
final decision on what to do with the vessels, efforts are being invested in two
parallel tracks. On the one hand, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are investing
significant diplomatic efforts in asking countries to work to prevent their
citizens from participating in the flotilla.
On the other hand, the navy
has drafted operational plans to stop the flotilla at sea, as it stopped a
similar flotilla last year on May 31. The Flotilla 13 naval commando unit –
better known as the Shayetet
– is to lead the operation and work closely with
the air force.
Some IDF officers have suggested allowing the ships to
reach the Gaza Strip after the navy inspects them to ensure that they are not
carrying weapons or other forbidden supplies to Hamas.
within the IDF is that a majority of the passengers will engage in passive
resistance but that there will likely be a group who will employ violence
similar to the Turkish mercenaries who last year attacked navy commandos aboard
the Mavi Marmara.
The next flotilla will include 13 or 14 ships and will
include 1,500 passengers, Hussain Orach, the vice president of the IHH
international relief organization, told Channel 2 on Sunday night. Orach invited
Israel to choose any international body it wants to performs checks on the
passengers and vessels involved in the flotilla.
He also praised
Saturday’s opening of the Rafah crossing as “good news,” but added that the move
would not stop the flotilla from proceeding as planned. He said the situation of
Gazans improved following last year’s May 31 flotilla, and further efforts must
be made to end the “unacceptable” blockade of the Strip, which he said is
The Free Gaza Movement has said that the flotilla
will set sail for Gaza in the end of June from various European ports.
Sunday, the Free Gaza Movement said that while it welcomed Ban’s request to
avoid violence, it will not heed his call to cancel the flotilla.
not engaged in illegal activity in the Mediterranean; it is Israel’s blockade of
1.5 million Palestinians that is illegal.
And as head of the United
Nations, he knows that the UN High Commission for Human Rights produced a report
that identified the blockade of Gaza as collective punishment, a war crime,” the
movement said in a press release.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, who led
the IDF probe into last year’s navy raid, said on Sunday that if Turkey took
responsibility for the flotilla and extended guarantees about its passengers and
cargo, Israel should consider allowing the ships to reach Gaza. He said that the
Egyptian decision to permanently open the Rafah crossing starting this past
weekend made the flotilla illegitimate and unnecessary.
theoretical since the Turkish government is not involved [in the flotilla
effort], but it is always better if there is someone who is accountable on the
other side,” Eiland said.
“This is currently not the case, but if, for
example, the Turkish government would turn to us and say they want to send ships
and that it will be coordinated with us, then we should not dismiss the request
out of hand, he said.