Turkey to Israel: Flotilla Not Our 'Concern'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Turkey rebuffed Israel's request to help stop another provocative flotilla planning to breach the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"We listened to the message given by the Israeli side and told them this is an initiative by civil society," Reuters quoted an anonymous Turkish official as having said.

The pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish "humanitarian aid" group, IHH, have been organizing the 15-vessel flotilla with more than 1,000 international activists on board, some of whom have reportedly said they're prepared to martyr themselves.

The IHH organization, with its ties to Hamas and other Islamic terror groups, told Reuters that "in Turkey, governments don't tell NGOs what to do and what not to do."

IHH head Bulent Yildrem referred to Zionism as a "virus that has infected all humanity."

This year's attempt is planned on the anniversary of the May 31 fiasco with the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara in which nine activists were killed after attacking Israeli Navy commandos attempting to board the ship.

According to some reports, the Mavi Marmara will serve as the flagship again this year.

In a letter delivered on Thursday, Israeli Ambassador Meron Reuben urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to speak out publicly against the planned provocation.

"In the past year, the United Nations, under your leadership, played an important role in preventing the launch of provocative flotillas by extremist elements in Lebanon," Reuben wrote.

"Israel is not interested in confrontation, but is firmly determined to enforce the naval blockade and will continue to remain closely engaged with other members of the international community to try and halt this unnecessary provocation," he wrote.

Reuben reiterated once again that Israel must prevent arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip, citing the Israeli Navy's March 18 interception of 50 tons of Iranian-manufactured weapons on board the Victoria. The freighter set sail from Syria's Latkia port and docked overnight in Turkey before heading for the Gaza Strip.

"It is clear that this anticipated flotilla is designed to serve as a political provocation and not to advance a humanitarian goal," Reuben wrote to the secretary-general, noting again there are established ways to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip.

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