The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
Pro-Palestinian activists told Israel on Monday not to interfere in a
planned aid flotilla to Gaza in late June, a little more than one year
after Israeli commandos boarded an aid ship killing eight Turks and one
Turkish-American. In addition, Channel 10 reported that hundreds of activists are expected to fly to Ben Gurion International Airport on July 8 to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Holding a news conference on the deck of the Mavi Marmara
where the May 31 2010 confrontation occurred, a coalition of 22
activist groups called on governments to ensure there was no re-run of
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UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked governments
to discourage activists from sending a new convoy and Turkey has told
them of the risks of trying to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza,
but said they are outside government control.
Gaza is controlled
by Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the group is
regarded as terrorist by Western powers, including the United States and
the European Union. Israel says it blockades Gaza to stop the
importation of weapons.
"They will not attack. We don't believe they will repeat the same big
mistake against humanity," said Huseyin Oruc, a spokesman for the IHH
Islamic charity. The activists later held a minute's silence for those
who were killed in 2010.
"It is the Mavi Marmara, it is a
peace boat and the other 14 boats are also peace boats," he told the
news conference on the ship, overlooking the Golden Horn inlet in
Istanbul, as workmen carried out maintenance work on the decks below.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu said the onus was on Israel to avoid any repeat of the
bloodshed, adding it should abandon its illegal blockade of 1.5 million
Palestinians living in the enclave.
"Therefore we are sending a clear message to all those concerned. The same tragedy should not be repeated again," he said.
Turkey wants Israel to apologize for its actions on the Mavi Marmara and to compensate the families of the men shot dead.
They were shot dead after the first Israeli boarding party on the Mavi Marmara
was attacked by activists wielding metal bars, clubs and knives. The
incident led to a breakdown in already strained ties between Turkey and
The activists said 15 ships, including the Mavi Marmara, would be in the new flotilla, carrying 1,500 people from around 100 countries, humanitarian aid and construction materials.
Activists vow to keep challenging blockade
Egypt eased travel restrictions for Gaza residents on Saturday, eroding the blockade..
But a spokesman for the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla II" vowed to keep challenging it.
"Israel's unlawful blockade remains in effect. Israel still prevents
Palestinians from using their sea and controls and severely restricts
all goods entering and exiting Gaza," said Greek university professor
"We renew our call to our governments to do their utmost to ensure that Israel does not repeat its attack on us," he said.
The United Nations has said it was giving a panel set up to investigate last year's incident more time to finish its work.
In letters to Mediterranean governments, Ban said aid for Gaza should go
through "legitimate crossings and established channels" -- which in
practice means through Israel -- and said he was concerned by reports of
a new flotilla.
He called on Israel to "act responsibly" to avoid violence.
Activists say it is legal for them to send goods by sea direct to the coastal Gaza Strip.