Saturday, June 19, 2010

Israel threatens to arrest and try passengers of international ships bound for Gaza

"I'm warning you. We're gonna' break the law and commit piracy again if you dare to travel in international waters to deliver aid to the people we are trying to starve. We have a right to protect ourselves!"

Middle East Monitor

Israeli authorities have warned that they will arrest any peace activists who participate in international aid convoys bound for the Gaza Strip and put them on trial.

According to Maarif Hebrew newspaper, "Israel sent a clear warning to the international community with the announcement that it plans to arrest, conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute any person on board the ships that are expected to arrive soon." This was a reference to Lebanese and Iranian ships allegedly being sent to break the illegal blockade of Gaza, and a second Freedom Flotilla later in the year.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, "We have asked foreign ambassadors to send a message to the citizens of their countries asking them to reconsider being on board similar aid ships given that the treatment they will encounter will vary from that used with the last flotilla that sailed from Turkey." Any ships sailing from Lebanon would, the spokesperson said, face the possibility of hostile treatment. "Turkey is not defined as an enemy country", the spokesperson added, whereas Lebanon is regarded as such by Israel.

Israel is apparently keen to send threatening letters explaining that passengers detained will not be deported after 24 hours at the expense of taxpayers in Israel, as with the Freedom Flotilla, "but will stand trial and will be jailed".

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