Netanyahu asks UN's Ban to help stop Gaza flotilla in May

PM tells UN secretary general that fleet of ships scheduled to arrive in Gaza in May is being organized by "radical Islamists."

Netanyahu 311 reuters (photo credit: Reuters)
Netanyahu 311 reuters
(photo credit: Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Friday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking him to work toward stopping a planned flotilla scheduled to arrive in Gaza in May.
Netanyahu told Ban that the flotilla was being organized partly by radical Islamists, whose aim is to provoke and cause violence.
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Netanyahu said in a statement that today Gaza is open to all types of goods through land borders. “Because of the attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza by sea, Israel must act with force against the flotilla.”
UN spokesman Farhan Haq issued a statement saying Ban “noted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concerns about possible flotilla shipments for Gaza.
“The secretary-general reiterated that there are land routes available for those wishing to send humanitarian assistance to Gaza,” Haq said. “He stressed as well that Israel should take meaningful steps to end the closure of Gaza.”
Earlier in March, pro-Palestinian movements in Europe, including the Free Gaza movement, said they planned to send another flotilla to Gaza in mid-May. Organizers have said that the flotilla will include 15 ships from a number of different countries, with thousands expected to participate.
“We sail not just for Gaza,” the group said in a March 31 posting on its website. “We sail to confront an entire apartheid regime that must be dismantled through citizen action.”
At its meeting in Amsterdam, the Free Gaza movement urged the governments of participating nationals to take the necessary steps to protect those nationals who will participate, the Kuwait News Agency reported. The flotilla will reportedly be called “Freedom Fleet 2.”
Last year, a flotilla from Turkey aroused controversy when nine passengers were killed as IDF soldiers intercepted one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara. Turkey has called on Israel to apologize for the deaths of the citizens, and to provide compensation to the families of those who died.
Israel has agreed to provide compensation, but refused to admit that its actions were unlawful and accept blame.
The Turkel Committee, established in Israel to investigate the events surrounding the Mavi Marmara raid, concluded that the IDF conducted its operation following international law, whereas a Turkish investigation found that Israeli soldiers shot five victims at close range, and that two were killed before the soldiers even boarded the ship.