US hopes to avoid repeat of 2010 flotilla debacle

Activists hold a banner reading ‘to Gaza
with love’ after their press conference in Athens
© AFP Louisa Gouliamaki


WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Obama administration said Monday it hopes to avoid a repeat of last year’s Gaza flotilla debacle, and called for “restraint” as a new flotilla prepares to take to the seas.

“We have said that Israel has a right to defend itself against armed smuggling, but we have called on all sides for restraint, and we hope that we don’t end up in the same situation we were in last year,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

“Our advice to all parties has been the same: that this is dangerous, that this is provocative,” Nuland added.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists, including one who also had US citizenship, when they boarded a Turkish vessel that was part of a flotilla trying to break the Israeli-imposed blockade of Gaza.

In Jerusalem Monday, Israel’s security cabinet ordered the navy to stop the international aid flotilla, known as Freedom Flotilla II, from breaching the naval blockade, but it also said it should avoid clashes with activists on board.

Last Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against the new flotilla, which is expected to carry 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries.

“We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza,” the chief US diplomat told reporters.

Israel first imposed a blockade on the enclave in 2006 after militants there snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a deadly cross-border raid. He is still being held.

A ban on civilian goods and foodstuffs was eased last year but many restrictions remain in place.

© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license

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