Barak: Flotilla a 'provocation'

Lebanese Gaza-bound ships will be "stopped at sea."

By
July 23, 2010 19:28
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

ehud barak 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The planned Lebanese flotilla to the Gaza Strip 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, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday.

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.

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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.

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