Spanish activists sue Israeli leaders
Passengers who were onboard Turkish-owned ship which attempted to reach Gaza file civil claim against PM Netanyahu, six of his ministers and Navy commander, say IDF sought 'to kill as many activists as possible'. Meanwhile, Israel's UN ambassador urges to stop new flotilla
Two Spanish peace activists and a local journalist, representing a local movement supporting the Arab League, plan to file the lawsuit against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Ministers Moshe Yaalon, Dan Meridor and Benny Begin.
The May 31 raid left nine Turkish civilians killed and dozens of people injured, including Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
The two Spanish activists, who were onboard the Turkish-owned Marmara ship, say in the statement of claim that "the entire operation was well planned by the Israeli army in order to kill as many activists as possible, while they were only trying to help Gaza's residents."
The Foreign Ministry said in response that the lawsuit was "a continuation of the provocation in other means."
According to a statement issued Friday morning, "Israel's actions are legal and in accordance with international law. Just like the flotilla organizers did not have humanitarian aid in mind, but only used it as an excuse for provocation and violence, the people filing the lawsuit are not really interested in law and justice, but are using them as a tool against Israel. The appointed commission of inquiry must be given the chance to do its work uninterrupted."
Meanwhile, Israel is urging Lebanon and the international community to prevent two other ships from sailing to Gaza from a Lebanese port to break Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory. The Jewish state warned that the vessels will be stopped.
Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev on Thursday night accused organizers of the aid ships Junia and Julia of seeking "to incite a confrontation and raise tensions in our region."
In letters to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, Shalev said, "Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the ... naval blockade."
She called on Lebanon's government "to demonstrate responsibility" and prevent the two ships, Junia and Julia, from departing.
Israel and Lebanon remain "in a state of hostility," Shalev said, and "such action will prevent any escalation."
"Israel further calls upon the international community to exercise its influence in order to prevent these boats from departing and to discourage their nationals from taking part in such action," she said.
Shalev said it can't be ruled out that the Junia and Julia are carrying weapons "or individuals with provocative and confrontational intentions."
The killing of the eight Turks and one Turkish-American during the raid put Israel under growing pressure to open Gaza's borders.
Under the old blockade rules, only basic food and medicine were allowed into Gaza. In a first step after the flotilla raid, Israel decided to let in most consumer goods but said Gazans would continue to be banned from travel and exporting goods for the time being.
Egypt also decided to ease its closure of Gaza after the flotilla raid, opening its borders to restricted travel and limited humanitarian convoys. The move restored a link to the outside world for at least some of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians.
Shalev highlighted "that all goods that are not weapons or material for war-like purposes are now entering the Gaza Strip through appropriate mechanisms that ensure their delivery as well as their civilian nature."
She said the organizers of the Junia and Julia are aware of these channels to deliver aid to Gaza but "similar to previous attempts by others" are seeking confrontation.
In the latest challenge to the blockade, a Libyan aid ship blocked by Israeli missile ships from steaming to Gaza arrived in the Egyptian port of el-Arish on July 14. Its cargo was to be unloaded and handed over to the Red Crescent to deliver to Gaza.
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