A bipartisan group of 36 American congressmen called on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to prevent another Turkish flotilla from sailing toward the Gaza Strip. Sixteen of the legislators are also members of the Caucus on US-Turkish Relations.
Fifteen ships are scheduled to set sail to the Gaza Strip during the month of June – a year after nine Turkish activists were killed
from IDF fire on board the Mavi Marmara ship.
In their appeal, the congressmen urged Erdogan to find alternative ways to transfer humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The bipartisan appeal, initiated by Congressman Tom Cole (R–Okla.) and Congressman Steve Israel (D–NY), read: “We write today to express our serious concern over reports that the so-called Free Gaza Movement and the IHH are planning to send another flotilla to Gaza in the coming weeks to provoke a confrontation with Israel.
"As members of the United States House of Representatives we ask you to help discourage these efforts and work with the Israeli government in a productive way as it continues to allow legitimate aid, but not weapons, to enter Gaza.”
Israel warned that "another so-called aid flotilla to Gaza is nothing but an attempt to provoke Israel.
“The Turkish government can help prevent violence by saying ‘no.’ We are urging Prime Minister Erdogan to actively work to put a stop to this and join with Israel in providing real humanitarian assistance to Gaza,” he wrote.
In their letter to Erdogan, the congressmen noted that the State of Israel had the right to defend the citizens of Israel, and emphasized the threat innocent Israelis face from weapons smuggled into the Strip.
The congressmen mentioned incidents in which Israel seized arms shipments that were en-route to Gaza and concluded that like any other state, Israel must take all the necessary precautions to defend its citizens.