Lebanon’s ship for Gaza

Barak: Lebanon Gaza-bound ship aims to aid terror group

Defense Minister says the ship which will carry aid and female activists from Lebanon who hope to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza ‘has nothing to do with humanitarianism.’

Published 17:45 20.08.10

By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/barak-lebanon-gaza-bound-ship-aims-to-aid-terror-group-1.309265

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About kruitvat

I am working for the Belgian human rights association 'Werkgroep Morkhoven' which revealed the Zandvoort childporn case (88.539 victims). The case was covered up by the authorities. During the past years I have been really shocked by the way the rich countries of the western empire want to rule the world. One of my blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Je travaille pour le 'Werkgroep Morkhoven', un groupe d'action qui a révélé le réseau pornographique d'enfants 'Zandvoort' (88.539 victims). Cette affaire a été couverte par les autorités. Au cours des dernières années, j'ai été vraiment choqué par la façon dont l'Occident et les pays riches veulent gouverner le monde. Un de mes blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Ik werk voor de Werkgroep Morkhoven die destijds de kinderpornozaak Zandvoort onthulde (88.539 slachtoffers). Deze zaak werd door de overheid op een misdadige manier toegedekt. Gedurende de voorbije jaren was ik werkelijke geschokt door de manier waarop het rijke westen de wereld wil overheersen. Bezoek onze blog «Latest News Syria» (WordPress) ------- Photo: victims of the NATO-bombings on the Chinese embassy in Yougoslavia
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8 Responses to Lebanon’s ship for Gaza

  1. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/barak-lebanon-gaza-bound-ship-aims-to-aid-terror-group-1.309265

    A ship that will set sail from Lebanon in a planned attempt to break Israel’s Gaza blockade is a provocation intended to aid a terror organization, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Friday.

    The ship, which is set to sail from Lebanon on Sunday, will carry aid and women activists hoping to reach Gaza, despite warnings that they will not be allowed to make it past Cyprus.

    “The ship that is preparing to sail from Lebanon has nothing to do with humanitarianism,” Barak said, adding that this activity is intended to aid a terror organization whose goal is to “kill Israeli civilians.”

    Barak called on the Lebanese government to prevent the ship from leaving its ports. He also reached out to international officials who may have some sway in Lebanon, and asked them to encourage the government to prevent the ship from departing for Gaza.

    “If the ship insists on arriving, in opposition to the current blockade, Israel will be forced to stop it and bring it to the port of Ashdod,” Barak said.

    The ship cannot travel directly to Gaza from Lebanon because Beirut is still technically at war with Israel, forcing the vessel to pass through a third country – in this case, Cyprus – before heading for the blockaded Palestinian territory.

    But on Thursday, the Cypriot ambassador to Lebanon told The Associated Press that the boat, the Mariam, will be turned back when it reaches Cyprus.

    “We decided that such a ship will not be allowed to enter Cyprus and if such a Gaza-bound ship docks in a Cypriot port the crew and the passengers will be deported to their country of origin,” Kyriacos Kouros said.

    Kouros said Cyprus has a moral and legal responsibility to those allowed into its waters, and that a blockade-busting ship could endanger lives along with regional peace and stability.

    But organizer Samar al-Hajj was undeterred Thursday, and said the ship, named after the Virgin Mary, will set out with between up to 75 female activists on a mission to deliver cancer medication, books and toys.

    “We are not children who can be told to stay home,” al-Hajj told the AP after a chaotic news conference outside the port in Tripoli, where security forces prevented the group from speaking to the media from the ship.

    Sending blockade-busting ships has become a highly charged issue since Israeli naval commandos boarded a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships on May 31, killing nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists.

  2. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/kadima-netanyahu-dodging-blame-for-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.306975

    Published 15:19 09.08.10Latest update 15:19 09.08.10

    Kadima: Netanyahu dodging blame for Gaza flotilla raid
    Kadima Chair Livni asks to testify before panel probing the raid, citing her role in the imposition of the Gaza blockade.

    The opposition party Kadima blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday for saying that the Israel Defense Forces was responsible for the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of ships that ended in bloody clashes and the deaths of nine people.

    On May 31, Israel Navy commandos boarded the six ships that made up the flotilla, which was primarily made up of activists from a Turkish organization, in an effort to prevent them from breaking through an Israeli marine blockade and reaching Gaza. The naval commandos who boarded the sixth ship – the Mavi Marmara – were met with violence and nine activists were killed in the subsequent clashes.

    The incident exacerbated tensions between Israel and Turkey, whose formerly friendly relations had been strained by a three-week IDFoperation in the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

    Opposition leader Tzipi Livni sent a letter to retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel asking to testify before the investigation commission he heads. Livni explained that one of the commission’s goals is to determine the legality of Israel’s blockade on Gaza, which was imposed in 2007 during the reign of the previous administration, of which she was an integral part as foreign minister.

    Livni said that the portion of the prime minister’s testimony that was made public “didn’t communicate, or didn’t correctly portray, the political and security considerations behind the decision to impose the blockade, and the need for it, as they were weighed by those responsible for imposing it – me included.”

    Earlier Monday, Livni’s Kadima party issued a statement saying that “Netanyahu’s testimony before the Turkel commission proves, once again, that there is no leadership.”

    “At the moment of truth, he put the blame on others and made the IDF into a punching-bag,” the statement said.

    When asked by Turkel whether or not it was the IDF which decided the means by which to halt the flotilla, Netanyahu said, “Yes, that’s standard procedure.” He added that it is the role of politicians “to determine policy” while “it is up to the military to execute it.”

    “The IDF had always decided on the ways in which to enforce the blockade [on Gaza] and has done its job well,” the prime minister said, saying that this was the “division of labor.”

    When asked by the commission how the decision on military action was received, Netanyahu said that that all of those involved “felt that the raid was a last resort, and the instructions were to conduct it with as little friction as possible.”

    “The IDF had looked into several options, as per my instructions, but also according to the instructions of the defense minister and the chief of staff,” Netanyahu said.

    When panel member Amos Horev’s asked which options were considered, Netanyahu evaded the question, instead asking to discuss the matter behind closed doors.

    When asked by former justice Turkel who Netanyahu had put in charge of the operation during his trip to the United States a few days prior to the flotilla’s arrival, the PM named Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

    “I want there to be one person,” Netanyahu said, adding that Barak had been “that person, I had a very important meeting with [U.S. President Barack] Obama.”

    The prime minister also told the commission that the implications of a military operation was discussed during the May 26 meeting of senior cabinet members known as the Forum of Seven, but said that the discussion had centered more around the public relations fallout the operation might have.

    “We didn’t discuss the details of the operation, except for the media impact,” Netanyahu said. He declined to answer several questions from panel members, saying he would only respond to them behind closed doors.

    Regarding the information Israel had received prior to the flotilla’s arrival, Netanyahu said that Israel had known that the convoy had been organized by the IHH, which was declared a terror organization more than a year prior by the defense minister.

    According to the PM, It was obvious that the “flotilla organizers were interested with clashing with the IDF,” adding that that was the information “that I had as well as that which every other member of the Forum of Seven had as well as any official who dealt with the matter.”

    Netanyahu’s opening statement: Panel will find Israel had acted within the law

    In opening remarks given prior to the panel’s questioning, Netanyahu praised the mission set forth by the panel saying, “no country or army examines itself more thoroughly than Israel and the IDF.”

    He continued by reiterating what he saw as the importance of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, saying that the measure was intended to stop shipments of arms from arriving at the Hamas-ruled Strip.

    “Hamas has transformed the Gaza Strip into a terrorist enclave sponsored by Iran,” Netanyahu said, describing the “thousands of rockets and missiles” Iran supplies as well as the “military training and funding” that Iran gives to Hamas.

    Netanyahu said he hoped the panel would emphasize in its report Hamas’s violations of international law: “inciting to genocide; systematically and intentionally firing on civilians; using civilians as human shields; and preventing visits by the Red Cross to kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.”

    Netanyahu added that the world was bent on considering the situation in Gaza as a humanitarian crisis, even though there had been photos published of Gaza market stalls filled “to the brim” with food. Food and medicine had all been allowed into Gaza, the Prime Minister noted.

    “While we did prevent a humanitarian crisis, we did not succeed in preventing the image of a humanitarian crisis – an image that was entirely false,” Netanyahu said.

    The Karin A, a ship intercepted by Israel carrying Iranian weapons, was used as evidence by the Prime Minister to denote the danger of an “open sea lane to Gaza.”

    Netanyahu described efforts that the government made in the month before the flotilla left for Gaza.

    “During the month of May, a continual diplomatic effort to this end was made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs vis-a-vis many countries, including countries whose citizens were on-board or whose harbors could be used by the flotilla at any stage of its voyage – including Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Britain, the United Nations, and above all with Turkey,” Netanyahu said.

    Elaborating on the political contacts that were made, Netanyahu said that on May 14, his office contacted some of the “highest ranking” Turkish officials. The ensuing conversation was on preventing a violent confrontation, Netanyahu noted. He said that on May 27, four days before the raid, he personally appealed to a senior official in Egyptian government and requested that they work in conjunction with the government of Turkey.

    “Nonetheless, it became clear that these political efforts would not stop the ship,” Netanyahu said. “Given the lack of effective pressure by the Turkish government and the lack of any desire on the part of the flotilla organizers to redirect their ships to alternative ports, none of the diplomatic efforts were effective.”

    Netanyahu wrapped up his statement by saying the IDF soldiers had the right to defend themselves against the violent activists who, as seen in the videos released, attacked them with clubs, knives, and live weapons.

    The Turkel commission’s mandate

    The panel investigating the raid on a the Turkish Gaza flotilla was recently granted greater authority after Turkel told the government the committee could not do its job without expanded investigative powers.

    Until the change in the committee’s mandate, the panel was only supposed to determine whether Israel’s efforts to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza accorded with international law, and whether the soldiers’ use of force was proportionate.

    It had no power to subpoena witnesses and could not draw personal conclusions against those involved in the raid.

    However, following Turkel’s demand to turn the panel into a full-fledged governmental inquiry committee with real teeth, the committee was granted the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, warn those who testify before it that the panel’s findings could harm them, and hire outside experts in relevant fields.

    The committee does not, however, have the authority to subpoena IDF soldiers.

    Soldiers and officers instead testified before the internal army probe into the raid’s operational aspects that was headed by Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, who is scheduled to present his findings to the Turkel Committee.

    By Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service

  3. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-chief-of-staff-threatens-1.308079

    Published 01:25 15.08.10Latest update 01:25 15.08.10

    The chief of staff threatens
    Using snipers against civilians must be restricted to extreme situations in which the soldiers’ lives are threatened.

    Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was praised this week, and justly so, for his testimony to the Turkel Committee, mostly because he did not divert responsibility for the failure of the Gaza flotilla affair. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to ignore one troubling part of the chief of staff’s statements: Ashkenazi said that for him the main lesson from the operational aspect is that if the Israel Defense Forces confronts a similar scenario in the future, it will have to use snipers, which he says would prevent harm to soldiers. This is very serious and shows that the chief of staff and the IDF have not learned a single lesson from the flotilla affair and Operation Cast Lead.

    The implication of the chief of staff’s words is that the IDF will not hesitate to hit civilians from a distance, using snipers firing live rounds. It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened if the naval commandos had conducted themselves this way during the takeover of the Mavi Marvara, when the lives of the soldiers were not threatened.

    This was precisely the doctrine of Cast Lead: minimum military casualties at nearly any cost – sometimes harming civilians and ignoring the laws of war. For this Israel continues to pay a heavy international price, and now it turns out that the chief of staff is threatening to continue this doctrine.

    In the future, similar flotillas must be handled precisely the opposite way. First, we should ask whether there is a need, and especially wisdom, behind a forceful takeover, if we know that the passengers on the ships are not carrying weapons destined for the Gaza Strip.

    But even if a forceful takeover is decided on, the IDF will have to find ways to ensure minimum casualties among both the soldiers and passengers. Israel got in trouble in the flotilla affair precisely because the IDF killed nine passengers. If they hadn’t been killed, the affair would not have taken its toll on Israel internationally.

    It’s not only about Israel’s image in the media, but also about the ethical profile of the state and its army. Using snipers against civilians must be restricted to extreme situations in which the soldiers’ lives are threatened. The takeover of a ship whose passengers do not have firearms can and should be carried out differently.

    Haaretz Editorial

  4. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-soldiers-suspected-of-theft-from-gaza-flotilla-ship-1.308862

    Published 23:37 18.08.10Latest update 23:37 18.08.10

    IDF soldiers suspected of theft from Gaza flotilla ship
    At least four soldiers being detained on suspicion of stealing and selling laptops belonging to activists aboard the Mavi Marmara ship, Israeli media report.

    Military Police arrested an Israel Defense Forces officer suspected of stealing laptop computers from activists aboard the Gaza-bound aid ship raided by Israeli commandos in May and selling them to other officers.

    The officer allegedly sold the computers to a friend, who in turn sold them to friends of his. Three officers who are suspected of having bought the computers have also been detained for questioning.

    The officer, who holds the rank of first lieutenant, allegedly stole between four and six computers from activists on the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip when Israel raided it, leaving nine Turkish activists dead.

    Israel Navy commandos boarded six ships that made up the Gaza-bound flotilla on May 31, in an effort to prevent them from breaking through an Israeli marine blockade and reaching Gaza.

    The naval commandos who boarded the sixth ship – the Mavi Marmara – were met with violence and nine Turkish activists were killed in the subsequent clashes.

    News of the officers’ arrests was first reported by Ynet, which quoted a high-ranking officer who said, “The investigation has just begun, but as it appears now it will prove embarrassing and shameful. These are soldiers who don’t understand what their uniform represents.”

    Israel Radio reported that cellular phones were also stolen from the activists.

    The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the Military Police had opened an investigation, but said it remains unclear if the computers in question were indeed stolen from the Mavi Marmara activists.

    In June, an Italian journalist who was detained by the IDF following the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla says his credit card was used to purchase items after it was confiscated by the Israeli authorities.

    By Haaretz Service

  5. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-to-gaza-flotilla-probe-idf-coordinated-the-deadly-raid-1.306902

    Published 09:12 09.08.10Latest update 11:24 09.08.10
    Netanyahu to Gaza flotilla probe: IDF coordinated the deadly raid
    PM tells Turkel Commission that he had put Defense Minister Barak in charge of the operation during his North American visit.

    The Israel Defense Forces was responsible for deciding how to carry out the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of ships that ended in bloody clashes and the deaths of nine people, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday told an Israeli commission of inquiry into the incident.

    On May 31, Israel Navy commandos boarded the six ships that made up the flotilla, which was primarily made up of activists from a Turkish organization, in an effort to prevent them from breaking through an Israeli marine blockade and reaching Gaza. The naval commandos who boarded the sixth ship – the Mavi Marmara – were met with violence and the nine were killed in the subsequent clashes.

    The incident exacerbated tensions between Israel and Turkey, whose formerly friendly relations had been strained by a three-week Israel Defense Forces operation in the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

    When asked by the head of the panel, retired chief justice Jacob Turkel, whether or not it was the IDF which decided the means by which to halt the flotilla, Netanyahu said, “Yes, that’s standard procedure.” He added that it is the role of politicians “to determine policy” while “it is up to the military to execute it.”

    “The IDF had always decided on the ways in which to enforce the blockade [on Gaza] and has done its job well,” the prime minister said, saying that this was the “division of labor.”

    When asked by the commission how the decision on military action was received, Netanyahu said that that all of those involved “felt that the raid was a last resort, and the instructions were to conduct it with as little friction as possible.”

    “The IDF had looked into several options, as per my instructions, but also according to the instructions of the defense minister and the chief of staff,” Netanyahu said.

    When panel member Amos Horev’s asked which options were considered, Netanyahu evaded the question, instead asking to discuss the matter behind closed doors.

    When asked by former justice Turkel who Netanyahu had put in charge of the operation during his trip to the United States a few days prior to the flotilla’s arrival, the PM named Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

    “I want there to be one person,” Netanyahu said, adding that Barak had been “that person, I had a very important meeting with [U.S. President Barack] Obama.”

    The prime minister also told the commission that the implications of a military operation was discussed during the May 26 meeting of senior cabinet members known as the Forum of Seven, but said that the discussion had centered more around the public relations fallout the operation might have.

    “We didn’t discuss the details of the operation, except for the media impact,” Netanyahu said. He declined to answer several questions from panel members, saying he would only respond to them behind closed doors.

    Regarding the information Israel had received prior to the flotilla’s arrival, Netanyahu said that Israel had known that the convoy had been organized by the IHH, which was declared a terror organization more than a year prior by the defense minister.

    According to the PM, It was obvious that the “flotilla organizers were interested with clashing with the IDF,” adding that that was the information “that I had as well as that which every other member of the Forum of Seven had as well as any official who dealt with the matter.”

    Netanyahu’s opening statement: Panel will find Israel had acted within the law

    In opening remarks given prior to the panel’s questioning, Netanyahu praised the mission set forth by the panel saying, “no country or army examines itself more thoroughly than Israel and the IDF.”

    He continued by reiterating what he saw as the importance of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, saying that the measure was intended to stop shipments of arms from arriving at the Hamas-ruled Strip.

    “Hamas has transformed the Gaza Strip into a terrorist enclave sponsored by Iran,” Netanyahu said, describing the “thousands of rockets and missiles” Iran supplies as well as the “military training and funding” that Iran gives to Hamas.

    Netanyahu said he hoped the panel would emphasize in its report Hamas’s violations of international law: “inciting to genocide; systematically and intentionally firing on civilians; using civilians as human shields; and preventing visits by the Red Cross to kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.”

    Netanyahu added that the world was bent on considering the situation in Gaza as a humanitarian crisis, even though there had been photos published of Gaza market stalls filled “to the brim” with food. Food and medicine had all been allowed into Gaza, the Prime Minister noted.
    “While we did prevent a humanitarian crisis, we did not succeed in preventing the image of a humanitarian crisis – an image that was entirely false,” Netanyahu said.

    The Karin A, a ship intercepted by Israel carrying Iranian weapons, was used as evidence by the Prime Minister to denote the danger of an “open sea lane to Gaza.”

    Netanyahu described efforts that the government made in the month before the flotilla left for Gaza.

    “During the month of May, a continual diplomatic effort to this end was made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs vis-a-vis many countries, including countries whose citizens were on-board or whose harbors could be used by the flotilla at any stage of its voyage – including Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Britain, the United Nations, and above all with Turkey,” Netanyahu said.

    Elaborating on the political contacts that were made, Netanyahu said that on May 14, his office contacted some of the “highest ranking” Turkish officials. The ensuing conversation was on preventing a violent confrontation, Netanyahu noted. He said that on May 27, four days before the raid, he personally appealed to a senior official in Egyptian government and requested that they work in conjunction with the government of Turkey.

    “Nonetheless, it became clear that these political efforts would not stop the ship,” Netanyahu said. “Given the lack of effective pressure by the Turkish government and the lack of any desire on the part of the flotilla organizers to redirect their ships to alternative ports, none of the diplomatic efforts were effective.”

    Netanyahu wrapped up his statement by saying the IDF soldiers had the right to defend themselves against the violent activists who, as seen in the videos released, attacked them with clubs, knives, and live weapons.

    The Turkel comission’s mandate

    The panel investigating the raid on a the Turkish Gaza flotilla was recently granted greater authority after Turkel told the government the committee could not do its job without expanded investigative powers.

    Until the change in the committee’s mandate, the panel was only supposed to determine whether Israel’s efforts to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza accorded with international law, and whether the soldiers’ use of force was proportionate.

    It had no power to subpoena witnesses and could not draw personal conclusions against those involved in the raid.

    However, following Turkel’s demand to turn the panel into a full-fledged governmental inquiry committee with real teeth, the committee was granted the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, warn those who testify before it that the panel’s findings could harm them, and hire outside experts in relevant fields.

    The committee does not, however, have the authority to subpoena IDF soldiers.

    Soldiers and officers instead testified before the internal army probe into the raid’s operational aspects that was headed by Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, who is scheduled to present his findings to the Turkel Committee.

    By Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service

  6. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-chief-future-gaza-flotillas-will-be-blocked-by-israel-s-defensive-shield-1.307413

    Published 21:19 11.08.10Latest update 21:19 11.08.10
    IDF chief: Future Gaza flotillas will be blocked by Israel’s defensive shield
    Ashkenazi tells Turkel committee IDF troops were not ready for violent resistance they met when they boarded a Gaza-bound aid ship, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists in May.

    Future aid flotillas traveling to Gaza to break the naval siege on the territory will be blocked by the Israel Navy’s defensive shield, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said on Wednesday.

    “If they come, they will be stopped by our defensive shield,” Ashkenazi said in his address at the naval graduation ceremony in Haifa. “There is no doubt that you will manage to stop the nearing threats,” he told the graduates.

    Earlier Wednesday, Ashkenazi testified before an internal probe into Israel’s deadly raid on the Gaza-bound aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, saying that the raid quickly became “chaotic,” and the soldiers had no choice but to “continue with the plan.”

    IDF troops were not ready for the violent resistance they met when they boarded a Gaza-bound aid ship and killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, Ahskenazi told the inquiry, headed by former chief justice Jacob Turkel, adding that the outcome of the May 31 raid was impossible to predict.

    “From the moment the operation began, it was clear that the circumstances were unprecedented,” he said, adding that as commander he took full responsibility for the troops’ actions.

    Meanwhile, despite initial reports that military personnel would not testify before the Turkel committee, Ashkenazi has authorized Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit to testify before the panel.

    Ashkenazi also approved the questioning of General (Res.) Giora Eiland, who headed the IDF’s internal inquiry into the deadly raid.

    By Haaretz Service

  7. kruitvat says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-warns-turkey-that-strained-israel-ties-could-hinder-arms-deal-1.308318

    Published 08:32 16.08.10Latest update 08:32 16.08.10
    U.S. warns Turkey that strained Israel ties could hinder arms deal
    Obama tells Turkish prime minister that Ankara’s position on Israel and Iran could lower its chances of obtaining U.S. weapons, the Financial Times reports.

    U.S. President Barack Obama has warned the Turkish prime minister that his country’s strained ties with Israel and increasing support of Iran could hinder an arms deal between Ankara and Washington, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

    “The president has said to [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress] . . . about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally,” one senior administration official told the Financial Times.

    “That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry that it would like to fight the PKK, will be harder for us to move through Congress,” the official was quoted as saying.

    Relations between Israel and Turkey have grown increasingly strained since Israel’s three-week-long Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which was launched in December 2008 in an effort to stop rocket fire by Gaza militants into bordering Israeli towns. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the operation.

    Erdogan condemned the Israeli offensive in Gaza, and criticized the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

    Following the offensive, Turkey called off a joint military drill with Israel, and relations were strained further after Israel rebuked the then Turkish envoy over a television show depicting Israeli soldiers as cold-blooded killers.

    The most critical blow to Israeli-Turkish relations, however, came on May 31, when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish aid convoy trying to break the naval blockade on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. Turkey had threatened to cut off diplomatic ties with Israel, and continues to demand an official apology over the raid.

    Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last week said Israel should admit sole responsibility for the killing of the nine activists.

    “No one else can take the blame for killing civilians in international waters,” Davutoglu told journalists. “Israel has killed civilians, and should take the responsibility for having done so.”

    Turkey, which is a NATO member and European Union member candidate, has also seen its capital rise sharply in the Muslim Middle East since Ankara’s vocal condemnation of the killings of nine pro-Palestinian activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship.

    Ankara, together with Brazil, brokered a nuclear fuel swap in May in the hopes that the deal would draw Iran and major powers back to the negotiating table.

    Turkey last week also said it would support gasoline sales by Turkish companies to Iran, despite U.S. sanctions that aim to squeeze the Islamic Republic’s fuel imports.

    The U.S. administration official quoted by the Financial Times, however, said that Turkey needs to show it takes American national security interests seriously.

    Washington is closely watching Turkish conduct to assess if there were “sufficient efforts that we can go forward with their request,” the official said.

    By Haaretz Service

  8. kruitvat says:

    Lebanese All-Women Aid Ship to Head to Gaza via Cyprus Sunday

    Freedom Flotilla To Gaza, Humanitarian Aid Ships

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