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Report: Israel training to block Freedom Fleet

May 12, 2010 3:15 P.M. (Updated: May 13, 2010 2:45 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel's naval forces are allegedly in training to prepare to seize eight boats scheduled to dock in the Gaza Strip on 24 May from Europe, Arabic-language media reported on Wednesday.

"About half of the Israeli naval forces will participate in an operation that was approved by the cabinet. [Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak will supervise the operation," an Israeli official told the Arabic-language satellite TV station Al-Hurra.

An Israeli security source told Ma'an that authorities will prevent the arrival of the boats "at any price."

The Freedom Fleet is scheduled to set sail from the UK, Greece and Turkey. The European Free Gaza campaign said Israeli authorities informed them that the flotillas would be prevented from docking in Gaza.

The boats will be loaded with prefabricated homes, cement, and medicine and will be accompanied by 600 individuals in a bid to break the siege on Gaza.

On Sunday, Jamal Al-Khudari, head of Gaza's Popular Committee Against the Siege, said Israeli threats to open fire at the boats reveal Israel's weakness.

"Such threats reflect the occupation's failure and embody state terrorism against peaceful individuals who come to support a people under siege and aggression," a statement issued by Al-Khudari said.

Under international law, the activists attempting to dock in Gaza have the right to participate in breaking the siege, Al-Khudari added, saying the threats will not deter participants from arriving in Gaza.

The popular committee organizer said the group was coming well-equipped, and would be ready should the Israeli navy surround them for a long period of time.

The Freedom Flotilla announced plans in late April, saying a group of ships would depart from several corners of the Mediterranean and gather in international waters with the intent to deliver some 5,000 tons of building and medical supplies to the population under siege.

According to flotilla organizers, 600 activists will sail three cargo ships and five passenger boats for Gaza in what a statement called the "biggest internationally coordinated effort to directly challenge Israeli's ongoing occupation, aggression, and violence against the Palestinian people."

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