Israel warns UN of danger Gaza aid flotilla poses

UNITED NATIONS - Israel said on Wednesday it has warned the United Nations a new aid flotilla intending to challenge Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip could result in “dangerous consequences.”

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 23 Jun 2011, 10:08 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:22 AM

“Israel calls on all nations to do all in their power to prevent the ... flotilla from occurring — and to effectively caution their citizens about the risks associated with participating in such harmful provocations,” Israel’s new U.N. Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor said.

“Launched under the false pretext of providing humanitarian assistance, this provocation is clearly designed only to serve an extremist political agenda — and holds the potential for dangerous consequences,” he said in a letter to the UN Security Council and to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Reuters obtained a copy of the letter, which was dated June 21, on Wednesday.

Israel has made clear it will prevent the pro-Palestinian aid flotilla from reaching Gaza. A year ago, nine Turkish activists, including one with dual US-Turkish nationality, were killed in an Israeli raid on a similar convoy.

The Israeli military came under fierce criticism for the May 2010 raid, which led to a severe deterioration of its ties with Turkey.

Prosor said the new flotilla was expected to set sail for Gaza around June 25 or 26.

Israel, together with Egypt, tightened a blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas seized it from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Palestinians believe the Israeli sea blockade is illegal and say it is helping strangle Gaza’s underdeveloped economy.

UN and Israeli officials announced on Tuesday that Israel had approved the building of $100 million worth of new homes and schools in the Gaza Strip. That means Israel will allow the importation of materials needed for construction, undercutting the need for an aid flotilla.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly urged Israel to ease the blockade but has also called on flotilla organizers to call it off and use approved land routes to get aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave instead.

Prosor said in his letter that many of the groups participating in the new flotilla “maintain ties with extremist and terrorist organizations, including Hamas.”

The United Nations is due to publish a report into last year’s raid on the Turkish-backed flotilla next month. Turkey has long been Israel’s closest friend in the Middle East, but the relationship has deteriorated and reached a new low last year in the wake of the deadly flotilla raid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, however, written to newly re-elected Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to repair Israel’s ties with Turkey, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.

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