The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
Israel has asked the Turkish government to prevent the sailing next month of
another IHH flotilla to mark a year since the Mavi Marmara incident, Israel’s
envoy in Turkey said Tuesday.
Gabi Levy told the Hurriyet Daily News
& Economic Review that he explained Israel’s view to the Turkish
government. According to the Daily News, the message was given verbally
to Halit Cevik, deputy undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign
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Levy said that Israel had no problem with the transportation of
humanitarian aid into Gaza through the legal channels.
“The passages to
Gaza are open. There is a greater flexibility on the Israeli side. The quota for
220 trucks cannot even be filled as there is no need for more aid. Under these
conditions, such an aid campaign could only be seen as provocation,” Levy was
quoted as saying.
Levy did not relate to how Israel would react to
another flotilla, beyond saying that “international law permits countries to
intervene with ships that could pose a threat to their national
The paper quoted a Turkish diplomat saying Israel’s request
was “still being evaluated.”
The report also said that the new convoy was
set to depart in mid-June, a couple of weeks after the anniversary of the Mavi
incident, in consideration of the upcoming Turkish general elections
slated for June 12 .
According to the paper, Turkey would likely keep a
low profile in this year’s flotilla both because of a reluctance to trigger a
new crisis with Israel, and because of the fact that the IHH and other Turkish
civil-society organizations participating in the effort are more closely aligned
with the Felicity Party and other conservative political parties, than with the
ruling AKP Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Nine Turks were
killed when they attacked IDF commandos who landed on the Mavi Marmara
of Israel’s territorial waters to prevent it from reaching Gaza last
The government, at various levels – including in meetings with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and in the security cabinet – is preparing different
options for ways to deal with the flotilla, expected to be larger than the one
One possibility under discussion includes having the Israel
Navy board the ships participating in the flotilla at sea, inspect them and then
if they are clear of weaponry, allow them to sail to the Gaza
Another possibility raised during the discussions was having the
ships dock at a foreign port – such as Cyprus – where they would be inspected
and, if found clear of weapons, be allowed to sail to the Gaza Strip.
want to avoid a confrontation with the ships since it is obvious that the
organizers want a provocation and media attention,” one senior IDF officer
Those in favor of allowing the ships to sail to Gaza claim that if
the ships are inspected at sea and found clean of weaponry the Israeli-imposed
sea blockade would still be intact even if the ships then sailed to the Gaza
“We will be showing the world that when we say that we have
imposed a blockade it is just for security and not civilian and if the ships are
inspected and not carrying weaponry then this will fit that model,” the officer
Those opposed to allowing the ships into Gaza claim that by easing
the blockade, Israel would be setting a dangerous precedent and could
potentially face dozens of more flotillas that would try to sail to Gaza.
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