WASHINGTON - A United States State Department spokesperson said Wednesday that the US has raised its concerns with the Turkish government regarding any flotilla sailing towards the Gaza Strip. According to the US, any flotilla would be considered an act of provocation since there is already an effective protocol to transfer humanitarian aid into Gaza.
State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner raised the issue during a daily press briefing in Washington, saying that in recent conversations with the Turkish government the US warned against organizations planning to break the Israeli blockage over Gaza.
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"We’ve raised our concerns with the Turkish Government as well, and we’ve also met and said publicly as well as privately, meeting with some of these NGOs, about the risk for attempting to break this blockade," said Toner.
"We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety. I think I’ve talked about this specifically."
Toner reiterated that "there are established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza, and that’s been our message consistently".
In regards to the question of whether or not Israeli forces plan to intervene in international waters to stop the flotilla Toner remarked: "I’d have to refer you to the Israeli Government as to what their actions may be if people attempt to break the blockade. Our message has been consistent… that flotilla actions are indeed provocative, and we don’t want to see anybody harmed."
UN Chief opposes aid flotilla
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called on governments last Friday to discourage pro-Palestinian activists from sending a new aid flotilla to Gaza a year after Israeli commandos killed nine people aboard a previous convoy.
In letters to Mediterranean governments, Ban said all aid for Gaza, which is blockaded by Israeli forces, should go through "legitimate crossings and established channels" – which in practice in recent years has meant through Israel.
But he also called on Israel to "act responsibly" to avoid violence.
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