Netanyahu to UN Chief: Upcoming Gaza flotilla must be stopped
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday to stop the impending flotilla that is supposed to set sail to the Gaza Strip in May.
The Israeli prime minister told the UN Chief that the flotilla is being organized by extreme Islamists that are interested only in provocation. He added that the ship's key goal is to fuel tensions, particularly in light of the fact that the Gaza Strip is open to all types of goods brought in via land.
The Mavi Marmara, aboard which Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish activists May 22, 2010
Photo by: AP
"Hamas is a terrorist organization and Iranian proxy," Netanyahu said, adding that "it was just recently revealed that part of Iran's efforts is to arm [Hamas] and smuggle weapons into the strip."
The prime minister then reminded the UN Chief of the recent incident of the Victoria ship earlier this month, upon which tens of tons of weapons from Iran were found and confiscated by Israel. Netanyahu told Ban that this is proof that Israel must act aggressively against the flotilla.
The Israel Navy intercepted an estimated 50 tons of weapons from Iran earlier this month aboard the Victoria, a cargo ship bound for the Gaza Strip, including sophisticated land-to-sea missiles that could have enabled Palestinian militants to hit ships at Ashdod Port or at sea, or other Israeli targets like a crude oil depot or a gas drilling rig.
The shipment also included instruction manuals in Farsi, and there were other clues that explicitly showed Iranian involvement.
Israel began a public campaign this month against the Turkish IHH organization as well as other left-wing European organizations who plan on sending a flotilla to May. Fifteen ships are expected to head towards the strip.
The exact departure date of the ships is still undecided, however the Foreign Ministry expects it to be sometime between May 15, Naqba Day, and May 31, the one-year anniversary of when Israeli naval forces boarded the Mavi Mara, destined for Gaza in an attempt to prevent it from breaching the blockaded on the strip. Nine Turkish citizens were killed.
The organizers of the upcoming flotilla have named it the "Freedom Fleet".