WASHINGTON - The US State Department on Thursday released a statement against additional flotillas to the Gaza Strip, calling them "irresponsible."
The statement said: "Mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so. Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances."
The statement added, "We, along with our partners in the Quartet, urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza.
"There is no need for unnecessary confrontations, and we, along with our partners in the Quartet, call on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday discussed
the matter with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. On Thursday he met with US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor James Jones, and senior officials in the US military and defense establishment.
Meanwhile, organizers of an Iranian flotilla to Gaza on Thursday announced
that the ship that was meant to set sail on Sunday will not be departing.
In a statement the organization said the main reason for the cancellation was "the violent and inhumane attitude of the Zionist regime to humanitarian aid."
Also Thursday, hundreds of people in New York City took part in what organizers called the "True Freedom Flotilla"
for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit
marking four years since he fell captive.
The event included a sail along the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty and the UN headquarters. The flotilla included two vessels, each carrying 600 people.