Pro-Palestinian activists told Israel on Monday not to interfere in a planned aid flotilla to Gaza in late June, barely a year after Israeli commandos boarded an aid ship killing eight Turks and one Turkish-American.
Holding a news conference on the deck of the Mavi Marmara where the May 31 2010 confrontation occurred, a coalition of 22 activist groups called on governments to ensure there was no re-run of the incident.
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"They will not attack. We don't believe they will repeat the same big mistake against humanity," said Huseyin Oruc, a spokesman for the Turkey-based IHH Islamic charity. The activists later held a minute's silence for those who were killed in 2010.
"It is the Mavi Marmara, it is a peace boat and the other 14 boats are also peace boats," he told the news conference on the ship, overlooking the Golden Horn inlet in Istanbul, as workmen carried out maintenance work on the decks below.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the onus was on Israel to avoid any repeat of the bloodshed, adding it should abandon its illegal blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians living in the enclave.
"We are sending a clear message to all those concerned. The same tragedy should not be repeated again," he said.
The minister added that democratic governments cannot stop their citizens launching another pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza.
"No democratic country can think that they have full control over these NGOs (non-government organizations)," he said.
But Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned that future flotillas would be stopped for security reasons and accused IHH of provocation, setting the stage for a possible confrontation. He said Turkey was not acting responsibly.
"No responsible country allows its citizens to go to conflict areas, areas under dispute and clashes, in which they can get hurt. We have had great success with all of the region's countries except Turkey," he told a TV interview in Jerusalem.
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