Israel Calls on U.N. to Stop Lebanese Flotilla

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gabriela Shalev called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to help prevent a two-vessel Lebanese "aid" flotilla from attempting to breech the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Shalev informed the international body that the Israeli Navy would exercise its legal rights under international law to prevent the ships from breaking the naval blockade,

"Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the…naval blockade," Shalev said in a letter addressed to the Ban Ki-moon and to current U.N. Security Council President Joy Ogwu.

"It cannot be ruled out that these vessels carry weapons or individuals with provocative and confrontational intentions," she said.

The flotilla's organizer Yasser Kashlak, 39, is a Syrian national of Palestinian descent who heads the Lebanese-based Free Palestine Movement.

The two Lebanese ships, Julia and Junia, are reportedly planning to set sail from Tripoli on Friday or Saturday. Israel's Navy has been put on high alert.

Shalev said the flotilla organizers were well aware of the correct channels to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, and their clear intent is to confront, incite, and provoke regional tensions "similar to previous attempts by others."

The ambassador asked other nations to support Israel's efforts to discourage attempts to breech the naval blockade.

"Israel further calls upon the international community to exercise its influence in order to prevent these boats from departure and to discourage their nationals from taking part in such action," the ambassador said.

Flotilla "Activists" Sue

In a related matter, three Spanish "activists" who were aboard the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-owned flagship boarded by Israeli navy commandos on May 31 when its crew refused to divert from the Gaza port, are suing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, six cabinet ministers, and Navy Commander Eliezer Marom.

"The entire operation was well planned by the Israeli army in order to kill as many activists as possible while they were only trying to help Gaza residents," the suit alleges.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists, most members of al-Qaeda-linked terror groups, were killed aboard the flagship, after attacking the soldiers with metal pipes, stun grenades, chains, and knives as they boarded the ship.  

The soldiers, who thought they would be using paintball guns to subdue a peaceful protest, in the end got permission to fire their handguns to save their lives.

The six other goverment officials named in the lawsuit are Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Ministry Eli Yishai, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and Ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin.

The Spaniards charged the ministers with crimes against humanity, claiming they were illegally arrested, tortured, and forcefully expelled from Israel.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the lawsuit was "a continuation of the provocation by another means."

"Israel's actions are legal and in accordance with international law. Just like the flotilla organizers did not have humanitarian aid in mind, but only used it as an excuse for provocation and violence, the people filing the lawsuit are not really interested in law and justice....The commission of inquiry that has been appointed must be given the chance to do its work," the statement read.

*Originally published July 23, 2010.

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