Israel, trying to stem the traffic of weapons to Hamas, has tightly restricted shipments of goods into Gaza, including cement and construction supplies that it contends would be used by Hamas to fortify its bunker system.
Listen to the full interview with the Israeli ambassador to the United States:
Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said Israel was coordinating an effort with the United States to persuade the Turks to transfer the cargo aboard the flotilla to send it to Ashdod where it would be screened. He says a similar request was made by Egypt.
But, said the ambassador, those efforts did not pan out. He says the United States "understands Israel's predicament vis a vie Gaza." He reiterated there is no shortage of food or medicine in Gaza, but says Hamas is there in Gaza and is smuggling in weapons. That, he says, is the reason for the naval blockade.
Ambassador Oren says Israel and the U.S. are talking about how Israel should respond to future aid flotillas to Gaza and that Israel is open to other suggestions. The ambassador also said they hope flotilla host countries, either Turkey or Ireland, will cooperate with attempts to stop attempts to break the blockade.
When asked if this has been a public relations nightmare for Israel, the ambassador responded: "This has not been a public relations picnic for Israel." Oren said Israel will not allow an international investigation of the incident.