Plans to send blockade-busting ships toward Gaza is to allow free flow of Weapons into the Palestinian territory
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Wednesday that the real motivation behind plans to send blockade-busting ships toward Gaza is to allow free flow of weapons into the Palestinian territory.
Netanyahu spoke as preparations were under way to send several ships carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists toward Gaza, setting up potential confrontations at sea.
On May 31, Israeli naval commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists in clashes aboard a Turkish ship headed for Gaza, setting off a world outcry and forcing Israel to ease its three-year-old blockade.
Israel already has warned archenemy Iran to drop its plan to send a blockade-busting ship to Gaza. The Iranian ship is one of several that activists say will head for Gaza in the next few months. One is said to be heading for Gaza from Lebanon within days.
On Wednesday, Lebanon warned that it would hold Israel responsible for any further attacks on blockade-busting ships.
Netanyahu said his government is drawing up a list of weapons and items with military uses that will not be allowed into Gaza "so that we can permit all the rest."
He said the new list will be made public "in the coming days."
Since the violent 2007 takeover of Gaza by Hamas - an Islamic militant group responsible for firing thousands of rockets at Israeli border communities - Israel has let in only limited humanitarian supplies, including basic foods and medicine.
Construction materials, which Israel maintains Hamas could use to make weapons and build bunkers, were barred, and the vast majority of Gaza's 1.5 million people could not travel. The blockade strangled the already poor territory's economy but failed to undermine Hamas, one of the blockade's main goals.
Under Israel's new policy, approved Sunday, "Anyone who wants to bring products can do so - food, toys, medicines, anything," Netanyahu said Wednesday at his Jerusalem office, where he was meeting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.
Israel insists that all cargo from the flotillas must be inspected at one of its ports to remove weapons, and then the aid supplies would be transferred over land to Gaza. Flotilla organizers have rejected this procedure, prompting Israel to take control of the boats at sea and bring them to Ashdod port.
The May 31 flotilla was made up of six ships, and violence erupted on only one of them. Israel says its commandos were attacked with iron bars, clubs and knives and opened fire in self-defense.