Israel urges Lebanon and world – Stop new Gaza flotilla or we will 23Jul10 July 24, 2010

Haaretz -  23 July 2010

Israel is urging Lebanon and the international community to prevent two ships from sailing to the Gaza Strip from a Lebanese port, warning that efforts to break the blockade of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory would be stopped.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, accused organizers of the aid ships Junia and Julia of “seeking to incite a confrontation and raise tensions in our region.”

A deadly Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship trying to bring aid to Gaza on May 31 killed nine activists and focused international attention on Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed after the Islamist militant and anti-Israel Hamas violently overran the Palestinian territory in June 2007.

In letters to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, Shalev said, “Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the … naval blockade.”

She called on Lebanon’s government to “demonstrate responsibility and prevent the two ships, Junia and Julia, from departing.”

“Israel and Lebanon remain in a state of hostility,” Shalev said, “and such action will prevent any escalation.”

“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,” she said.

Shalev said it can’t be ruled out that the Junia and Julia are carrying weapons or individuals with provocative and confrontational intentions.

The killing of the eight Turks and one Turkish-American on May 31 put Israel under growing pressure to open Gaza’s borders.

Under the old blockade rules, only basic food and medicine were allowed into
Gaza. In a first step after the flotilla raid, Israel decided to let in most consumer goods but said Gazans would continue to be banned from travel and exporting goods for the time being.

Egypt also decided to ease its closure of Gaza after the flotilla raid, opening its borders to restricted travel and limited humanitarian convoys. The move restored a link to the outside world for at least some of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians.

Shalev highlighted that “all goods that are not weapons or material for war-like purposes are now entering the Gaza Strip through appropriate mechanisms that ensure their delivery as well as their civilian nature.”

She said the organizers of the Junia and Julia are “aware of these channels to deliver aid to Gaza but similar to previous attempts by others are seeking confrontation.”

In the latest challenge to the blockade, a Libyan aid ship blocked by Israeli missile ships from steaming to Gaza arrived in the Egyptian port of el-Arish on July 14. Its cargo was to be unloaded and handed over to the Red Crescent to deliver to Gaza.


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