Israel threatens to use force against women activists

June 20, 2010

Israel’s UN envoy has told the world body that Israel is entitled to use ‘all necessary force’ to prevent activists sailing from Lebanon to Gaza, Israeli media reported on Saturday.

A group of dozens of Lebanese women activists is planning to set sail for Gaza on a ship loaded with medical supplies in a new bid to break Israel's three-year blockade of the Palestinian territory, AFP reported.
Lebanese Islamic resistance movement Hezbollah on Friday denied it was backing an all-women aid flotilla planning to sail from Lebanon to Gaza, saying that it did not want to give Israel a pretext to attack the peace activists.
In a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported by radio stations and Internet news sites, Israeli Ambassador Gabriella Shalev was quoted as saying that Israel suspects that organizers may be linked to Hezbollah.
“Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the existing naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the website of newspaper Haaretz quoted Shalev as writing.
On Thursday the Lebanese and Egyptian Prime Ministers condemned Israeli threat against Beirut, saying it “might have dire consequences” for Tel Aviv.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Nazif took the stance after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned the Beirut government against allowing an aid ship to depart Lebanon for the besieged Gaza Strip, Press TV reported.
“The Israeli government continues to threaten Lebanon,” Hariri said at a news briefing with the visiting Nazif in Beirut on Thursday.
Last week a group of female Lebanese activists announced a plan to send an aid ship loaded with medical supplies to Gaza. The organizers of the aid convoy say 50 Lebanese and foreign activists would be aboard the ship.
“There are fleets coming from Europe,” said Hariri, asking that “will the Israeli defense minister attack Europe or other countries sending aid to Gaza?”
“Enough lies ... Israel's actions are not humanitarian and rejected by all human rights treaties,” AFP quoted the Lebanese prime minister as saying.
Israeli forces on May 31 attacked the multinational Freedom Flotilla relief mission, which had set sail to break Tel Aviv's siege of the Gaza Strip. The assault in international waters left at least 9 activists dead and over 40 other injured.
Nazif, for his part, warned Israel against consequences of a similar assault on the women activists' aid ship.
The Egyptian premier said that an Israeli attack on the ship “might have dire consequences as we saw with the Turkish Freedom flotilla.”
“The region is facing a crossroads between the will for peace, which all Arab states voice and the international community supports, and Israel's reluctance and intransigence,” Nazif said.
The attack on the Freedom Flotilla has provoked ferocious international condemnation of Israel