'Problem in Gaza is arms buildup not humanitarian crisis'

ByGIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 27, 2011 14:34

Speaking to Independence faction, Ehud Barak calls flotilla "unnecessary provocation," and says "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak 311 (R). (photo credit:Reuters)

Gaza's real problem is not a humanitarian crisis but the fact that Hamas continues to build weapons arsenals there, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday during a meeting with his Independence faction.

Commenting on a flotilla scheduled to set sail for Gaza in the coming days, Barak called the plan an "unnecessary provocation," and stressed that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

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"The real problem in Gaza is that [Hamas] continues to hold [captured IDF soldier] Gilad Schalit and to build up weapons arsenals," he said.



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Emphasizing that there was no problem in getting humanitarian supplies to the Strip, the defense minister said "We asked the organizers to stop the provocation.

"I ordered the IDF to block the ships," he said. "If there is a conflict or damage, it will be the responsibility of the flotilla organizers."


Barak's comments come after the security cabinet on Monday approved a Navy plan to prevent the upcoming flotilla from approaching Gaza's shores and giving the IDF authority to prevent the ships' arrival by any means necessary while trying to avoid casualties.
 

During the Independence faction meeting, Barak also commented on efforts to release Gilad Schalit, saying, "We are doing everything possibile to get him free."

On the Iran's plan to hold a large-scale military drill and test long-range missiles, Barak said, "The Iranians have missiles that can reach far. They are continuing to develop abilities to attack. We are following the drill and its influence."

JPost.com staff contributed to this report.
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