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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: EPA
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: EPA
 
 

Cabinet votes to stop Gaza flotilla

National Security Cabinet orders IDF to 'adamantly' stop vessels trying to breach maritime blockade while doing everything possible to spare human lives. Flotilla organizers say are 'optimistic'

Attila Somfalvi
Latest Update: 06.27.11, 15:31 / Israel News

The Security Cabinet voted Monday in favor of stopping the planned Gaza flotilla from breaching the maritime blockade placed on the Strip and reaching its shores.

 

The cabinet further ordered the IDF to "adamantly" stop the sail should it try to breach the siege, while doing everything possible to spare human lives.

 

 

Scaling Down
Gaza flotilla losing momentum  / Ynet reporters
Greek authorities detain six ships supposed to partake in Strip-bound sail as Israel reiterates it will not allow flotilla of any size to reach Gaza
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Israel will also continue to try and stop the sail via diplomatic efforts.

 

Meanwhile, the organizers of the second Gaza flotilla called a press conference Monday in Athens:

"We hope to leave as planned in a few days," they said. "We are not against Israel or the Israeli government. Our actions are only against the policies of the Israeli government." The press conference was held in Greek for the most part, with an interpreter present for the benefit of the press.

 

"The ships are ready and will leave if the pressure is reduced, pressure which is known and is coming not only from the Israeli government but from the US government and other sources as well," the organizers said.

 

"We are optimistic because… we have the will of the people. This is the key to our effort. We hope that the technical difficulties that we face are not caused by Israeli pressure on the Greek government," they added.

 

'Magicians never reveal all their tricks'

"We are going to sail, we have ten boats, we have cargo boats and they will not stop us. If they will try to physically stop us we will come again and again and again...because this our purpose, to open the traffic of people and goods to make the relations in Gaza normal again," Dror Fyler, who will take part in the flotilla as head of the Swesidh mission, said.

 

"You want to know when we are coming but magicians never reveal all their tricks… he continued.

 

"After the holocaust two kinds of Jews evolved," he continued, "one kind, because of the terrible experience, say 'we will do everything we can to never let this happen to us again.' The other kind of Jews say 'we will never let it happen to anybody again.'

 

"It has been 13 months since the attack on the Mavi Marmara, they killed 9 of our brothers, 13 months of grueling hard work and we have finally come to the conclusion - we are on our way to Gaza."

 

The organizers noted that the looming sail was prompting Israel to "suddenly allow medicines and construction materials into Gaza. Israel says there is no need for flotillas...if so – let us come in, open (Gaza) completely.

 

"Even when Egypt opens the Rafah crossing, it isn't complete - one day open, one day closed," Fyler said. "The people of Gaza should not be victims of the whims of the Egyptian or Israeli governments and therefore we are going there."

 

'Siege a collective punishment'

American author Ann Wright, added that "all 22 national delegations are here to challenge the policies of Israel and the US. That's why we named our boat the 'Audacity of Hope' which is a book by President Obama. We are challenging Obama's policies and those of his Seecretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who call our actions provocative."

 

The organizers further said Israel was "trying to outsource the siege to Greece and to the US and trying to get others to do their job… It is our job to stop them."

 

Huweida Arraf, the flotilla's legal counsel said that "There are no 'established channels' for the desire for freedom… Israel's policy is one of collective punishment... Speaking as a Palestinian: We don't want aid, we want liberation."

 

The organizers urged the Greek government to let the ships sail from Athens and urges Israel to end the blockade.

 

Israel believes the second flotilla will be much smaller than originally planned, as six ships which were slated to take part in the Gaza-bound flotilla have been detained by the Greek port authorities.

It now appears that no more than seven ships, carrying 200-500 passengers, will participate in the flotilla.

 

Commander of the Israel Navy Admiral Eliezer Marom recently urged organizers to call off the flotilla. The Navy said it was "gearing for all scenarios" in the coming flotilla.

 

On Sunday Government Press Office's Director Oren Helman warned international journalists against joining the flotilla, saying the move may result in various sanctions.

 

The Foreign Press Association inIsrael demanded Monday that Helman recant the threat, saying it has no legal merit.

 

The enraged backlash and subsequent allegations suggesting "Israel was not committed to the freedom of the press" prompted the Prime Minister's Office to release a statement Monday, saying that the proposal will be revisited.

 

The planned flotilla has been denounced as a provocation by the US, UN and EU. The United States urges American citizens against participating in the sail.

 

Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report

 

 

First Published: 06.27.11, 12:02

 

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