Israel said on Monday it would not let Iranian ships sail to Gaza after the
Iranian Red Crescent announced it would send two vessels to the region in the
“If we didn’t let an Irish ship reach Gaza, we are certainly
not going to let Iranian ships pass,” one diplomatic official said.
official added that it was not yet clear how serious the Iranian threat
that there was often “a lot of bluster” coming out of Teheran.
Iranian regime has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and has a
track record of supplying dangerous weapons to Hamas and Hizbullah,” the
official said. “Obviously, any shipment from Iran to Gaza would be a
Abdolrauf Adibzadeh, the Iranian Red Crescent director for
international affairs, told a French news agency: “One ship will carry
made by the people and the other will carry relief workers.
The ships will
be sent to Gaza by end of this week.” The decision to send aid ships
came a day
after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that the
Guards could be sent to protect ships trying to break the Gaza
blockade."We cannot take a chance that there is weaponry on the
Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said such a move would pose a
challenge not only to Israel, but also to Egypt, which could not be
the prospect of the Revolutionary Guard sailing through the Suez
Defense officials said Israel would not allow the ships to reach
“Iran is Hamas’s main supplier of weaponry,” one official said. “We
cannot take a chance that there is weaponry on the ships.” This would
not be the
first time Iran sent ships to test Israel’s blockade of Gaza. In January
during Operation Cast Lead, an Iranian ship was dispatched with what was
to be humanitarian cargo. While Israeli soldiers never boarded the
navy preventing it from reaching its destination by blocking sailing
Also on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
continued to lambaste Israel, saying during a press conference in
Syrian President Bashar Assad that last week’s raid on the flotilla had
violation of international law and human values. He also urged Israel to
an international probe into the raid.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Monday, for the second time in
two days, with his inner
cabinet, a forum known as the septet, and discussed the type of probe
be set up to look into the raid on the Mavi
investigation may be established with foreign observers
the Prime Minister’s Office made no official announcement, it is widely
that the ministers agreed to the establishment of an Israeli
committee – and not a wider government commission of inquiry – with the
participation of two foreign observers, one American and one from an
It is not clear who will lead the probe, but one name being
prominently mentioned is law professor Ruth Lapidot. The panel is
question the political echelon and senior military officials, but not
soldiers who took part in the raid.
It is also expected to look at the
legality of the naval blockade on Gaza, and the legality and manner in
Israel prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza.
In the midst of a debate
on the matter, President Shimon Peres reportedly told Netanyahu during a
on Monday that if he wanted to prevent further international isolation
Israel, moving forward on the peace process with the Palestinians would
important than the establishment of a flotilla probe.
Jerusalem is also
discussing the framework of the probe with Washington, to ensure the
meets US requirements. The State Department stressed that it expected
fulfill the obligations for a credible investigation laid out last week,
officials declined to address specific configurations.
“We expect the
Israeli government to conduct a prompt, impartial, credible and
investigation conforming to international standards that gets to all the
surrounding this tragic incident,” one State Department official said.
official reiterated the US position that Washington was “open to
of assuring a credible investigation, including international
without specifying which arrangement was preferred.
“We will continue to
discuss these ideas with the Israelis and our international partners in
ahead,” the official said.
“This is a very difficult situation that
requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned.” Israeli
probe unlikely to suffice for Erdogan
The type of probe
being formulated in Jerusalem is unlikely to suffice for Turkey’s
however, who on Monday said: “If there is hatred, it is Israel’s hatred.
there is terror, it is Israel’s state terrorism.” With Assad at his
Erdogan said Israel should “look in the mirror” for the perpetrators of
terrorism, and called on the United States to “protect the honor of its
citizen.” This was in reference to one of the nine men killed on the
was a dual US Turkish national living in Turkey.
In response to a question
about the five Mavi Marmara
activists listed by Israel as having ties to
terrorist organizations, Erdogan said: “If there were any terrorists,
were they set free?” Israel decided not to prosecute those who had been
ships, but rather to deport them, in an effort to limit the diplomatic
Assad said the blockade of Gaza must end.
this blockade must be lifted, and at the same time Israeli must be
placed in a
cage of crime,” the Syrian president said. “It must be placed under
so that it cannot spread disease to anybody.” Erdogan strongly urged
Fatah to quickly reconcile their differences at a time when Palestinian
was of utmost importance.
“Hamas has given its consent to us to broker a
dialogue,” he said. “We will also talk to Fatah and see their position.”
and Assad’s comments came on the opening day of an Istanbul summit on
security. Nine heads of state, including Iranian President Mahmoud
are scheduled to attend the two-day Conference on Interaction and
Building Measures in Asia.
Israel is represented at the conference by its
envoy in Ankara.
Israeli diplomatic officials, continuing a policy put
into place immediately after the flotilla incident, refused to respond
“We are not looking for a public shouting match with
the Turks,” one official said. “So far, the shouting has been one-sided
have earned respect from certain quarters in the world for showing
the face of comments that can only be termed as undiplomatic.” Flotilla
humanitarian aid has not yet been transferred to Gaza
In a related
development, the Defense Ministry said on Monday it had transferred all
humanitarian aid that had been on the flotilla intercepted last week
Ashdod Port to the military’s Tzrifin Base near Rishon Lezion.
equipment, which includes medicine that has expired, as well as used
wheelchairs, couches and carpets, was being stored at the base after
refused to allow it to be transferred to the Gaza Strip.
of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, has
instructed his team to hold talks with international organizations to
find a way
to get the supplies into Gaza.Hilary Leila Krieger and AP