Juppe: Flotilla a bad idea; Israel must end Gaza blockade

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz joins social media movement against flotilla by tweeting about "comfortable lifestyle" in Gaza.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Wednesday called on organizers of the flotilla to Gaza to cancel their plans to sail to the Strip. The flotilla, Juppe said, "is a bad idea that is expected only to return and spur anxiety and to cause confrontation," Army Radio reported.
"The events that took place last year showed that such initiatives [pose a] danger for the outbreak of confrontation," he added. Nevertheless, "the call for responsible behavior does not change our stance regarding the blockade on Gaza and our demands for basic changes in Israel's approach."
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Study finds pro-Israel majority on social networksThe French foreign minister said, "It's essential that Israel allow the quick transfer of aid to its recipients, and continue policies easing the blockade until it is completely removed."
IDF Chief of General Staff  Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz took to the IDF's Twitter page on Wednesday to express his views on the upcoming flotilla."#flotilla based on unsubstantiated reality," he tweeted, using the hashtag link for flotilla tweets. "Press missing link btwn comf lifestyle in Gaza & blockade use."
Gantz's tweet was a continuation of comments he made on Tuesday, when he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak criticized the motives of activists taking part in the upcoming flotilla to Gaza, saying that the humanitarian situation there is not as bad as activists portray, Army Radio reported.
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Speaking with Gantz at an IDF ceremony for reservists on Tuesday, Barak called the flotilla a "provocation," adding that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If [activists] are sensitive to human suffering, then they need to turn their efforts to freeing [kidnapped soldier] Gilad Schalit or at least allowing him visitors."
Gantz said that the flotilla was not even meant to bring Gazans humanitarian aid, but rather to work towards the delegitmization of Israel.
The IDF chief said that activists were blowing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza out of proportion, saying that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip do not lack basic supplies. According to Gantz, Gazans are "importing televisions and plasma screens, and exporting agricultural products to the entire Arab world."
Gantz added that the IDF was well equipped and ready to deal with any threat posed by flotilla activists. On Monday night, intelligence sources said that some flotilla activists may be planning to attack IDF soldiers with sulfur, or even attempt to kill some of Israel's troops.

Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.