WASHINGTON – Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday, expressing Jerusalem's "concern" that the Gaza-bound Lebanon flotilla may be affiliated with Hezbollah.
The "Miriam" is set to sail from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, carrying 50-75 women. Israel believes some of the women have ties to the militant Shiite organization. Organizers claim the ship will carry humanitarian aid.
Israel has already said that while the Miriam is welcome to dock and unload in Ashdod or Egypt, it will not be allowed to reach Gaza. Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have called the sail an act of provocation.
Earlier, Barak issued a statement urging Lebanon to stop the sail, while Lieberman ordered the Israeli mission to the UN to lodge an official complaint on the matter with the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In the letter, Shalev said that Israel had information suggesting the Miriam will be joined by a second ship, the "Naji al-Ali."
The sail, she wrote, "Is cause for great concern and demands the international community's attention."
In light of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and the fact that the ships are sailing off the coast of Lebanon – which Israel sees as an enemy state – "Israel reserves the right to take the necessary measures, as stated by International Law, to stop these vessels from breaching the maritime blockade.
"One cannot dismiss the concern that these vessels may carry weapons or hostile individuals," Shalev wrote, adding that Israel – in conjunction with the UN and UNRWA – has established an agreed upon route through which humanitarian aid can be delivered to Gaza Strip.
"Israel also urges the international community to exert its influence against such sails and the participation in them," she concluded.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report
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