The Israeli Prime Minister called the head of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, on Friday to insist that the UN intervene to stop an international humanitarian aid mission that is planned for this coming May.According to the Israeli Prime Minister, the aid caravan is being organized by “Islamic extremists”, but offered no evidence to back this claim. The organizers of the flotilla include well-known Jewish-American activist Adam Shapiro, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, and dozens of international non-governmental organizations and individuals, including 40 members of the media who plan to document the journey. The names of participants have all been made public, and include no one listed by the US or Israeli government as an ‘Islamic extremist’.
The planned flotilla also includes a US ship loaded with humanitarian aid donated from volunteers all over the US, who managed to raise $500,000 for medical, school and building supplies to give to the people of Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also told the UN Secretary General that Iran was behind the aid mission, saying, “It was just recently revealed that part of Iran’s efforts is to arm [Hamas] and smuggle weapons into the strip.” He offered no basis for this claim, and no recent media reports indicate the existence of such a revelation.
Netanyahu may have been referring to the March 17th seizure of a Liberian ship carrying a cache of weapons that was intercepted on its way to Africa. Although there was no evidence that any of the weapons were intended to go to Gaza, Israeli officials speculated that the weapons were going to be transported through Africa to Egypt, then smuggled into Gaza via underground tunnels, further claiming that Iran was behind the plot. Israeli officials offered no evidence for this claim.
Organizers of the upcoming aid flotilla responded to Netanyahu’s demand on Friday with their own request of the United Nations, asking that the international body abide by international law, and prevent Israel from attacking the aid ships in international waters, as Israeli troops did last year.
A representative of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) said, ‘We call on the United Nations to remember its purpose as stated in its own charter: to suppress acts of aggression, and to settle disputes in conformity with principles of justice and international law.”
The planned flotilla of ships will be filled with medical equipment, building equipment, school supplies and other humanitarian aid that is expressly forbidden from entering Gaza by the Israeli government, which controls Gaza’s borders and shoreline.
Activists say they will set off from Europe around the time of the one-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on the humanitarian aid convoy last year in which 9 aid workers were killed, including an American teen, by Israeli troops.