Government mulls allowing flotillas to reach Gaza Strip

Netanyahu examines prospect of int'l party investigation of all vessels prior to docking; Israel asks Turkey to prevent dispatch of next flotilla.

April 12, 2011 20:08
2 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Bibi netanyahu. (photo credit: JPost Staff)

The government is considering allowing flotillas bound for Gaza to dock in the Strip so long as they undergo a thorough search by an international authority, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday evening.

According to the TV report, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was examining the idea of letting ships dock in the Strip as long as Israel and a third, international party, such as Greece, were to check any incoming vessel for illegal weapons or illicit materials.

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Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported Tuesday that Israel had asked Turkey work to prevent a Turkish group from dispatching the next flotilla to the Gaza Strip, fearing a repeat of the events aboard the Mavi Marmara in last year's flotilla where eight Turkish nationals and one US citizen of Turkish descent were killed in clashes with IDF soldiers who boarded the ship.

The Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gaby Levy, said that Israel has reiterated its willingness to allow aid to Gaza to pass through the legal channels, citing the Turkish Red Crescent that already does humanitarian work in the strip, Hurriyet reported.

Earlier Tuesday, the Turkish IHH organization said that it will delay its participation in the upcoming flotilla to Gaza scheduled for June until after elections in Turkey, Israel Radio reported.

According to the report, the group will wait to see if Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will be reelected during the June elections before it decides to send the Mavi Marmara ship back to the Gaza Strip.

A Turkish representative from the organization told Israel Radio that the decision was not made as a result of international pressure.

"The flotilla will eventually set out on its way," the representative said.

"This is not Israel's Mediterranean Sea," IHH President Bulent Yildrim said last week, according to Turkish newspaper Zaman. "We are not afraid to become martyrs."

At the beginning in of April, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking him to work toward stopping the planned flotilla.

Netanyahu told Ban that the flotilla was being organized partly by radical Islamists, whose aim is to provoke and cause violence.

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