Tuesday, Sept. 17
Latest News
  1. Palestinian goverment: 26 million in development of ministries
  2. Rudeineh: Washington us unable to achieve anything by itself
  3. US: “No plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of the West Bank"
  4. Cluster of incendiary balloons land in southern Israel
  5. Palestinian FM condemns Germany's vote to define BDS as 'anti-Semitic'
  6. Israeli forces forcibly evict Muslim worshipers from Al-Aqsa
  7. Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah
  8. Erekat: Deviation from peace terms of reference doomed to fail
  9. Iceland's Hatari shocks Eurovision with Palestinian flags
  10. UNRWA: 4 Palestinian children killed in attack on Syria refugee camp

Israel approves plan to repel Gaza flotilla

June 27, 2011 6:29 P.M. (Updated: June 28, 2011 2:51 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's security cabinet on Monday ordered the navy to stop an international aid flotilla from breaching a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, but also to avoid clashes with activists on board.

"Members of the [security] cabinet decided today following a debate on the flotilla that the state of Israel will be determined in stopping the flotilla's arrival in Gaza," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

But forces would be ordered to do so "with minimal confrontation, as far as possible, with those on board the ships," it said without giving further details.

Also on Monday, Netanyahu said a threat to punish foreign journalists in the convoy by barring them from entering Israel for up to 10 years would not be carried out.

The premier's office said he had been unaware of the original warning.

"When this was brought to the prime minister's attention, he ordered that normal procedures taken against infiltrators and those entering illegally not be applied to journalists," the statement said.

Netanyahu also said he would allow reporters to accompany the naval vessels sent to intercept the flotilla "in order to allow transparent and trustworthy coverage of the events."

Organizers said that between 30 and 50 journalists were expected to sail with the flotilla.

The closed-door cabinet meeting was the second session on the flotilla in as many days.

On Sunday, ministers in the forum were briefed on the military's preparations for the 10-ship convoy which is expected to set sail from Greece later this week.

During the meeting, ministers decided not to allow the ships to anchor in Gaza, although they would be allowed to unload their cargo at the Israeli port of Ashdod or Egypt's El-Arish port for checks, media reports said.

If no weapons or ammunition were found, the cargo would be transferred to the Gaza Strip.

Public radio said Cairo had already agreed to allow the ships to dock at El-Arish which lies some 50 kilometers west of the Gaza border.

In Greece, organizers said they would try and rendezvous their boats off the coast of Crete on "Thursday or Friday" and then head for Gaza.

Thursday or Friday, nine or 10 boats should meet up in the Libyan Gulf,¨ Vaguelis Pissias said at news conference.

We really hope that despite the pressure from Israel and other countries, the Greek authorities are not going to stop us leaving."

Israel Hayom newspaper quoted navy chief Eliezer Marom as telling ministers that his men were better prepared than they were last May, when marine commandos stormed the lead ship of a previous flotilla, killing nine Turkish nationals.

"Our forces are ready to stop the flotilla and not to allow the ships to reach Gaza," an unidentified political source also told the paper.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and several international leaders have urged the flotilla not to set sail, and Washington has warned US nationals not to join the attempt to break the Israeli embargo.

Some 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries including Canada, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain are set to join "Freedom Flotilla II" in a bid to break Israel's five-year blockade on Gaza where 1.6 million Palestinians live.

Israel first imposed a blockade on the enclave in 2006 after militants there snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a deadly cross-border raid. He is still being held.

A ban on civilian goods and foodstuffs was eased last year but many restrictions remain in place.

Around seven of the vessels due to join the flotilla are already docked in Greece while several others will join them later, media reports said.

But the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-owned ferry where the bloodshed took place last year, will not take part in a move welcomed by Israeli officials that has helped ease fears in Israel of a violent confrontation, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday.

Organizers said the boats would set sail from various Greek ports this week, and were to give further details at a news conference in Athens later on Monday.

Two cargo vessels will carry medicines, a fully-equipped ambulance and cement.

Last week, Washington slammed the flotilla plans as "irresponsible and provocative," saying all aid to Gaza could be delivered through Ashdod.

Most Read
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015