ISTANBUL, Turkey, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Monday Israel "wants to split the Palestinian people in two" through its Gaza Strip blockade.
Haniyeh, whose tour of the Muslim world comes as Israeli and Palestinian representatives prepare to possibly restart peace talks, visited the boat Mavi Marmara, which was raided in May by Israeli commandos who killed nine Turkish activists, Today's Zaman reported. The vessel was part of a flotilla seeking to break the blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh visited with family members of the victims, who he called "the martyrs" and said contributed a lot to the Palestinian cause.
"Israel wants to split the Palestinian people in two, using the blockade," Haniyeh said at the Port of Istanbul, Ynetnews reported.
Israel has lifted restrictions on consumer goods going to the Gaza Strip, but retained a ban on materials such as cement and metals it says Hamas could use to build fortifications or in attacks on Israel.
Speaking of a monument Hamas built for the Marmara victims, Haniyeh said, "The promise we made to the victims means not giving up on Jerusalem and freedom for prisoners in Israeli jails."
The Humanitarian Aid Foundation, which Israel has added to its terror watch list, was behind the flotilla and hosted Haniyeh in Turkey.