News / Middle East

US Sharpens Warning on Gaza Flotilla

The United States Friday sharpened its warnings to activists planning a new attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade and deliver relief supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Nine Turkish activists were killed when Israel forcibly turned back an aid flotilla last year.

Officials here say the United States is making diplomatic appeals to countries around the eastern Mediterranean, including Israel, to try avoid a repeat of the deaths and injuries of last year's flotilla incident.

News reports say several hundred pro-Palestinian activists including a number of U.S. citizens intend to leave Greece in as many as ten private vessels this coming weekend to deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza and commemorate the flotilla effort broken up by Israel on May 31 of last year.

The United States says it supports Israeli efforts to curb the illicit shipment of weapons and other military items to Hamas-controlled Gaza, and says there are safe and legal channels for delivering humanitarian goods that do not challenge the blockade.

At a press event late Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israel has recently eased restrictions on shipments of goods to Gaza and that the planned effort by the activists is unnecessary.

"We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza," said Clinton.  "Just this week, the Israeli Government approved a significant commitment to housing in Gaza.  There will be construction materials entering Gaza and we think that it's not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves."

In a travel warning to would-be flotilla participants earlier this week, the State Department said because of the "dangerous and volatile" security conditions in Gaza, U.S. citizens are advised against travel there by any means including via the sea.

It noted the casualties in last year's incident and said Americans joining in any effort to reach Gaza by sea could also face arrest, prosecution and deportation by Israel.

In a lengthy written statement Friday, the State Department also said that delivering material support to Hamas, which the United States lists as a foreign terrorist organization, could result in prosecution in American courts.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland side-stepped questions about the legality of the Israeli blockade tactics, saying the U.S. interest is in avoiding a confrontation and a repeat of last year's events.

"I think the main point that we were trying to make in the statement was that we've got to use the channels that are safe, the channels that are going to guarantee that the aid gets to where it needs to go, to the people it's intended for, and to discourage, in the strongest terms any actions on the high seas that could result in a conflict," said Nuland.

The flow of everyday materials into Gaza has increased sharply since the fall of the Hosni Mubarak government in Egypt, which had closely controlled the flow of goods through the main crossing point between Egypt and Gaza.

Israel said earlier this week it will allow the United Nations to bring building materials for more than a thousand new housing units and schools in Gaza, though aid groups operating in Gaza say supplies of many key items are still insufficient.

Activists involved in the new flotilla effort say their primary concern is the welfare of the estimated 1.6 million Gaza residents, regardless of their political affiliation.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs