Accessibility links

Breaking News

Activists Vow New Aid Flotilla to Gaza

Workers work on the cruise liner Mavi Marmara which is under maintenance in a shipyard in Istanbul May 30, 2011

Pro-Palestinian activists on Monday vowed to send a new flotilla of aid to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

A previous flotilla from Turkey was stopped at sea by Israeli commandos one year ago, on May 31, 2010. Nine Turkish activists were killed and seven commandos were wounded in the encounter.

The activists gathered Monday on the same ship where the fight took place, the Mavi Marmara, and said they would sail again in late June, carrying humanitarian aid. The flotilla is expected to total 15 ships with passengers from a number of countries.

Greek activist Vangelis Pisias said Monday that despite Egypt's opening of the Gaza-Egyptian border crossing at Rafah, the Israeli sea blockade continues to restrict the flow of goods into the Palestinian area.

The Rafah crossing is the only entry point into the Gaza Strip that is not controlled by Israel.

Israel said last week that it would enforce its naval blockade on Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is concerned that the ships could also deliver weapons to Palestinian militants.

The May 2010 clash severely strained relations between Turkey and Israel. Israel has refused to apologize for the deadly incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.