The UN said Friday that organizations wishing to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip should do so by land and not attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the territory by sea with flotillas, AFP reported.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky made the statement at a press briefing amid reports that a flotilla of two vessels from Lebanon was planning to leave for Gaza on Friday or Saturday.
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"Our stated preference has been and remains that aid should be delivered by established routes, particularly at a sensitive time in indirect proximity (peace) talks between Palestinians and Israelis," said Nesirky.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that the planned Lebanese flotilla is an “unneccsary provocation” and Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible to prevent the ships from trying to sail to break the Israel-imposed sea blockade on Gaza.
The Israel Navy was on high alert on Friday amid predictions that a flotilla of two vessels from Lebanon were preparing to depart for the Gaza Strip in an effort to break the Israel-imposed sea blockade by the end of the week.
Barak said that if the cargo the ships were carrying was of a humanitarian nature it would be allowed into Gaza via the Ashdod Port and land crossings Israel controls into Gaza.
“If the ships refuse to accompany the Navy to Ashdod, we will have no
choice but to stop it at sea,” Barak said.
Defense officials said that the Navy had deployed ships at sea to stop
the Lebanese boats and that teams of commandos from the Navy’s Flotilla
13 – known as the Shayetet – were put on standby in case they would be
needed to board the ships and prevent them from sailing into the Gaza
Strip. The organizer behind the ships is Yasser Kashlak, a Syrian
national of Palestinian origin.
Two ships are expected to depart Tripoli on either Friday or Saturday
to try and break the blockade. One of the ships is carrying women and
the other is carrying journalists.