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Marmara vessel from first flotilla
Photo: AP
Organizers: Flotilla no threat to Israel
Free Gaza 'determined to sail to Gaza'; meanwhile, Israel allows Turkish aid into Strip

The Free Gaza organization has declared that it is "determined" to sail to Gaza in a "freedom flotilla" planned for this month, despite a recent message by the Turkish IHH saying it was reconsidering its participation.

 

"We do not present an imminent threat to Israel nor do we aim to contribute to a war effort against Israel, thus eliminating any claim by Israel to self-defense, we invite the HRC or any other UN or international agency to come on board and inspect our vessels at their point of departure, on the high seas, and/or on their arrival in the Gaza port," the group said in a statement Thursday.

 

 

The statement adds that an international fact-finding mission investigating what it describes as the "unlawful" IDF raid on the first flotilla, which took place on May 31 of last year, concluded that Israeli soldiers violated human rights laws and "demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence".

 

"Unfortunately and incredibly, Israel is threatening to use even greater violence against Freedom Flotilla II, which will sail to Gaza the end of this month. Its threats have included the use of snipers and canine units," Free Gaza claims.

 

"Even more deplorable, world leaders, rather than demanding that Israel halt its provocative behavior towards us and refrain from once again attacking unarmed civilians, have called the Flotilla initiative a provocation and have asked countries on the Mediterranean to prevent us from sailing."

 

On Wednesday it was announced that the Jewish community in France had succeeded in winning over various international groups and local members of parliament to prevent a flotilla ship from docking in Marseilles, effectively canceling its participation in the upcoming flotilla.

 

The organization's statement also defends activists on board the first flotilla, saying that the UN fact-finding mission had "interviewed them at length" and found them to be "persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism and imbued with a deep and genuine concern for the welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza".

 

"For too long our national and international leaders have passively watched the tragedy of Gaza – of all of Palestine. The grossly unjust and unlawful blockade of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing belligerent occupation of the rest of Palestine – imposed by Israel and tolerated by the world community - is a stark case of states sacrificing principle and human rights for power and self-interest," Free Gaza stated, citing a recent alert by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights of a shortage of medicine in the Gaza Strip.

 

Free Gaza also called upon the Human Rights Council to "stand up to Israeli threats" and " defend our right to intervene in the long-standing tragedy which is Gaza and to expose and put an end to Israel’s illegal behavior, which has too long been tolerated by the international community."

 

Israel allows Turkish aid

Meanwhile, Israel announced Thursday that it would allow medical supplies donated by the Turkish Red Crescent into Gaza, for use in hospitals which have alerted authorities to a shortage recently. The transfer will take place as part of daily humanitarian aid transfers.

 

Major General Eitan Dangot, coordinator of government activities in the (Palestinian) territories, says his office is coordinating the routine transfer via the Erez Crossing. Sources affiliated with the proceedings say the transfer is part of the humanitarian efforts conducted for the benefit of residents of the Strip.

 

The efforts, sources say, are made on a daily basis and include products related to health, education, agriculture and infrastructure. The goods come from various organizations worldwide, which choose to coordinate their aid efforts with Israel.

 

"This proves Israel welcomes any transfer of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip population, and will work to help the process along," a security official said.

 

"The transfer of goods can be undertaken in a variety of ways, and there is no need to break the blockade on Gaza – a move that constitutes nothing but a provocation," he said.

 

The medical crisis, sources say, has nothing to do with Israel and is a consequence of political battles waged within the Palestinian health system.

 

Aviel Magnezi and Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report

 

 

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