Browsing Posts tagged flotilla

With recent events shining an international spotlight on the situation in Gaza, the Middle East Quartet (United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia), released a statement noting that efforts “have improved conditions over the last year, including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the facilitation of some exports.” Last week alone, 1,236 truckloads totaling over 29,556 tons of goods were unloaded at the land crossings into the Gaza Strip and transferred to Palestinian and international organizations for distribution. This is in addition to Egypt’s reopening of the Rafah border crossing.  The Quartet commended “the recent approval by Israel of materials for new homes and schools to be constructed by UNRWA.”

The statement continued saying:

“The Quartet recognizes that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded. Members of the Quartet are committed to working with Israel, Egypt and the international community to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza and believe efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical. In this context, the Quartet strongly urges all those wishing to deliver goods to the people of Gaza to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via established land crossings. The Quartet regrets the injury and deaths caused by the 2010 flotilla, urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation.”

The Quartet also called for an end to “the deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit.”

Read the full statement here.

Following the incident off the coast of Gaza on May 31st, specifically the IDF’s actions after boarding the Mavi Marmara, Israel has been accused of wrongdoing and breaking international law. Israel has always believed that exposing the truth is in their best interest as it has nothing to hide. The old adage “the truth will set you free” was the impetus for the creation of the Turkel Commission, an independent, nongovernmental panel led by former Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel, with foreign observers to remove any possible bias.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu delivered a statement on Monday before the Turkel Commission, explaining the change in Israel’s policy towards the Gaza Strip and what really transpired aboard the Mavi Marmara, highlighting all actors involved.

Said Netanyahu, “Our soldiers faced a very real danger to their lives from brutal attacks, and acted in self-defense.  We made tremendous efforts to prevent injuries, but the IDF soldiers have the right to defend themselves. ”

He went on to explain “how dangerous an open sea lane to Gaza is for the security of the State of Israel. On one ship, the Karin A, Iran tried to send dozens of tons of weapons to Gaza. On another ship, the Francop, Iran tried to send Hezbollah hundreds of tons of weapons, approximately two-thirds of the total ammunition fired at Israel during the Second Lebanon War”

To read the Prime Minister’s full address to the Turkel Commission, click here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Israel has agreed to participate in the official UN investigation into the May 31 events regarding the flotilla. This will be in addition to the Independent Public Commission set up in Israel with foreign participation.

Explaining its position regarding Israel’s collaboration with this UN committee, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “Israel has nothing to hide.  The opposite is true.  It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing.”

Despite launching its own internal investigation led by nongovernmental officials and foreign observers, calls were made amongst the international community for a United Nations-led inquiry.

The four-member panel will include a Turkish representative along with an Israeli representative. The panel will be chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer as well as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe as vice chairman. They are slated to finish their first progress report by mid-September.

Ban Ki-moon thanked the government of Israel “for their spirit of compromise and forward-looking cooperation” which resulted in what he called “an unprecedented development.”

“I hope that today’s agreement will impact positively on the relationship between Turkey and Israel as well as the overall situation in the Middle East,” he added.

The following statement was delivered by Yossi Gal, Israel’s director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“I want to once again deliver a message that has been delivered in both public and private channels to the Rachel Corie ship heading toward Gaza:

We have no desire for a confrontation. We have no desire to board the ship. If the ship decides to sail the port of Ashdod, then we will ensure its safe arrival and will not  board it. Israel is prepared to receive the ship and to offload its contents. After an inspection to ensure that no weapons and war materials are on board, we are prepared to deliver all of the goods to Gaza. Representative of the people on board and relevant NGOs are welcome to accompany the goods to the crossings. We will work with the UN and international organizations to ensure that all the goods are used for the benefit of the people of Gaza.”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thanks again to all of you who sent in your questions and comments! We answered a ton of them live but there were many more you all sent in that we would like to respond to! Below, find our “overtime” segment for the twitter press conference! continue reading…

Thank you all who logged on yesterday to post your questions, comments, and concerns. We answered a ton of questions in just over an hour, and we will be putting ALL of our answers up on this blog later this day. In addition, there were a lot of very good questions we simply didn’t have the time to answer, so we’ll be going through and posting answers to the rest as soon as possible.

Once again, thank you for making yesterday’s twitter press conference a success, and stay tuned later this afternoon for a mammoth update!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

PARIS (AP)— The Turkish Islamic charity behind a flotilla of aid ships that was raided by Israeli forces on its way to Gaza had ties to terrorism networks, including a 1999 al-Qaida plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, France’s former top anti-terrorism judge said Wednesday.

The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, known by its Turkish acronym IHH, had “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and Jihad,” former investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. continue reading…