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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs