ehud barak 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke Saturday with world leaders and urged them to take action to stop the planned Lebanese aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.
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Barak spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US National Security Advisor Jim Jones and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
his conversations, Barak said that Israel would allow the transfer of
the supplies these ships are supposed to carry to Gaza after they are
unloaded and inspected at the Ashdod Port.
“The attempt to sail the flotilla is an unnecessary provocation,” Barak said.
On Saturday, organizers of one ship said they were considering a new
route to Gaza
after Cyprus refused to allow the ship entry. Called the
Mariam, the ship cannot travel directly to Gaza because Lebanon is
technically at war with Israel, forcing the vessel to pass through a
third country before heading for the seaside strip.
Organizers said they have contacted authorities in Greece and Turkey
since Cyprus refused them entry. The ship will carry aid and women
activists, according to organizers.
The IDF in the meantime is gearing up for the possible arrival of the
Mariam, in addition to another ship from Lebanon, which could likely
arrive sometime next week. The additional Lebanese ship, the Naji
al-Ali, was also slated to leave from a Lebanese port with the intent of
violating the blockade.
IDF sources said that the navy would intercept the ships as they attempt
to enter Gaza and would operate under the assumption that hostile
elements could be aboard.
In late May, navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger
ship and came under attack by a group of alleged mercenaries. The
commandos killed nine passengers.
Last week, Ambassador to the UN Gabriella Shalev sent a letter to
Secretary-General Ban Kimoon to tell him that two ships planning to
depart for Gaza Sunday are “deeply troubling” to Israel and that the
international community should use its influence to prevent the vessels
from leaving Lebanon.
“Given the ongoing armed conflict between the Hamas terrorist
organization and the State of Israel, compounded by the fact that these
ships originate from Lebanon that remains in a state of hostility with
Israel, Israel reserves its right under international law to use all
necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the aforementioned
naval blockade,” Friday’s letter read. “Furthermore, it cannot be ruled
out that these vessels carry weapons or individuals with violent
Shalev, writing to draw Ban’s attention “to a developing matter of
serious concern in the Middle East,” said in her letter that individuals
connected to Hizbullah had announced that the Mariam would depart from
Tripoli on Sunday.
“The stated intention of this vessel is to violate the existing naval
blockade of Gaza, and some of its organizers have stated that Lebanese
authorities offered their approval of this provocative act,” Shalev
Shalev highlighted that all humanitarian goods were now entering the
Gaza Strip through “appropriate mechanisms that ensure their delivery as
well as their civilian nature,” and that the organizers of these
flotillas “seek to incite a confrontation and raise tension in our
“Such confrontational actions by the organizers of these vessels, as
well as those that offer their consent, is deeply troubling and requires
the attention of the international community,” the letter read.
At a meeting of the Security Council on July 21, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B.
Lynn Pascoe said that aid flotillas “are not helpful to resolving the
basic economic problems of Gaza and needlessly carry the potential for
The point was reiterated by the Secretary-General’s Office on July 23,
when it said that established routes for supplies to enter by land (vis
Israel or Egypt) were the appropriate way for such supplies to be
Shalev’s letter called for Lebanon “to demonstrate responsibility and to prevent these boats from departing to the Gaza Strip.
“Such action will prevent any possible escalation,” the letter stated. “Israel further calls upon the international community to exercise its influence in order to prevent these boats from departing and to discourage their nationals from taking part in such action.”
The Secretary-General’s Office had no comment on Shalev’s letter. However, a representative did say that “the secretary-general’s position has consistently been that people wanting to bring aid into Gaza should use the accepted routes. He has called on all parties to avoid any provocative actions.”AP contributed to this report.