(AFP) – May 17, 2010
JERUSALEM — A senior Israeli official told European diplomats on Monday that a plan by pro-Palestinian activists to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip was a "provocation" and would be stopped.
The Free Gaza Movement, an international group seeking to ship humanitarian goods and activists into the coastal strip, aims to send three cargo ships and five passenger vessels to Gaza from Ireland, Greece and Turkey.
"This is a provocation and a breach of Israeli law," Naor Gilon, a foreign ministry deputy director general, told the ambassadors of Greece, Ireland, Turkey, and Sweden, whose nationals the ministry said were involved.
"Israel has no intention of allowing the flotilla to enter Gaza," a ministry statement quoted Gilon as saying.
The website of the Free Gaza Movement says the 1,200-tonne Rachel Corrie left Dundalk in Ireland on May 14 and would rendezvous with the rest of what it calls the "Freedom Flotilla" in the Mediterranean.
Israel has maintained a strict blockade on Gaza since the Islamist movement Hamas seized power there in 2007.
Last June the Israeli navy intercepted a ship carrying journalists and activists, including Irish Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire, from Cyprus to Gaza and towed it into the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.
The crew and passengers were returned home after being questioned by police.
The MV Rachel Corrie is named after a US activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer during a demonstration in Gaza in 2003.
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