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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora