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Israel Orders Military to Stop Gaza Aid Flotilla


An activist holds a placard during a news conference regarding preparations of a flotilla, which is due to set sail to Gaza from Greece, in Athens June 27, 2011.

An activist holds a placard during a news conference regarding preparations of a flotilla, which is due to set sail to Gaza from Greece, in Athens June 27, 2011.

Israel's security cabinet has ordered the country's military to prevent a planned flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip but to avoid clashes with activists on board.

The senior ministers on Monday also instructed Israel's foreign ministry to continue its diplomatic efforts to prevent the flotilla from setting sail to the Palestinian territory, which is under an Israeli blockade.

At the same time, Israel dropped its threat to ban journalists from the country for 10 years if they were found on the flotilla.

The head of the Israeli government press office had said in a letter to journalists Sunday that the flotilla is being organized by Western and Islamic extremists, and that those taking part would be in violation of Israeli law.

Journalists say they should be allowed to cover a legitimate news story.

Organizers of the flotilla say as many as 10 ships will carry humanitarian goods and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas. It is not clear when the ships will set sail, but organizers have said it could begin this week.

The effort will also commemorate the flotilla effort broken up by Israel in May of last year.

Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists, including one who also had U.S. citizenship, in a clash when the Israeli forces boarded a Turkish vessel that was part of a flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

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