WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday urged aid boats making their way toward Gaza to accede to Israeli demands that they dock in Ashdod to avoid another violent incident.

“We strongly encourage those on board the Rachel Corrie and other vessels to sail to Ashdod to deliver their materials to Gaza,” US National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement, referring to a private Irish ship expected to arrive in the vicinity of Gaza Saturday morning.

He noted that “Israel has stated its desire to avoid a confrontation and a repeat of Monday's tragic events on the Mavi Marmara.

In that case, nine people were killed when Israeli commandos boarded as it attempted to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza, refusing to stop in Ashdod for inspection and delivery of their goods.

“It remains a US priority to provide assistance to the people of Gaza,” Hammer said, explaining that the call to stop in Ashdod stemmed from “the interest of the safety of all involved, and the safe transmission of assistance to the people of Gaza.”

He concluded by urging “all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations and to ensure the safety of all involved.”

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