TEHRAN, June 7 (UPI) -- Iran is prepared to deploy the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp naval forces to escort aid ships pressing an Israeli blockade on Gaza, authorities said.
Israel enacted a blockade on Gaza in 2007 to keep weapons out of the hands of the ruling Hamas, which has vowed to destroy Israel.
A flotilla May 31 refused Israeli orders to divert to the port of Ashdod for inspections. Israeli forces then raided a Turkish-flagged vessel in the convoy in international waters, killing nine in what the Israeli military said was an act of self-defense.
Hojjatoleslam Ali Shirazi, a representative to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said the IRGC was ready to protect Gaza-bound ships from Israeli action.
"The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps navy is ready to escort the peace and freedom convoys that carry humanitarian assistance for the defenseless and oppressed people of Gaza with all its strength," he said.
He said the IRGC was ready to receive his orders, noting the enemies of Iran "should be met head-on through a spontaneous international movement, and we should foil their evil plots."
Israel during the weekend boarded the humanitarian aid ship Rachel Corrie bound for Gaza but used no force and no one was injured.