Turkey Warns Israel as New Flotilla Prepares to Leave for GazaWorld | May 21, 2011, Saturday // 16:43| views
A handout image provided by Israeli Defence Force IDF showing Israeli Navy soldiers approaching the seventh flotilla ship, Rachel Corrie, 05 June 2010. EPA/BGNES
Turkey has issued a stark warning against Israel against a repetition of the 2010 incident with an aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip, after Turkish activists announced plans to send a new flotilla.
"It should be known that Turkey will give the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview on NTV television, as cited by Lebanese media Al-Manar
"Those who believe Turkey should take certain steps to stop (the new flotilla) must first warn Israel not to repeat the human tragedy it caused last year," he said.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli marines swarmed aboard the Turkish flagship of an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza, which resulted in a clash and death of 9 Turkish citizens, and an unprecedented strain in relations between old time allies Turkey and Israel.
The Istanbul-based charity which had spearheaded the mission said Friday that a new convoy of ships would sail to Gaza in the last week of June. Around 1 500 activists from more than 100 countries will take part in the convoy, organized by 22 civic groups, it said, as cited by Al-Manar.
"We have never encouraged any convoy. We have shared our views about the safety of our citizens with all related parties. That was the case last year and it is not any different this time," Turkish Foreign Minister said regarding attempts to dissuade the group from the campaign.
The minister insisted however that his government "cannot give instructions to civil society" and that Israel's "unlawful" blockade of Gaza lay at the core of the tensions. He urged the United States and the international community to back a recent reconciliation deal between the Palestinian resistance group Hamas and the secular Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
"If the division of the Palestinian authorities is healed, the conditions that serve as Israel's justification for the blockade will be eradicated... and there will be no need for an aid convoy," he told NTV.
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