Gaza blockade

By United Press International  |  June 7, 2010 at 8:40 AM
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JERUSALEM, June 7 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is balking at calls for an international investigation into the military's raid on a flotilla of aid ships.

Netanyahu convened a high-level Cabinet group for a lengthy meeting Sunday to discuss reaction to the May 31 raid on six ships trying to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel has maintained the blockade since 2007 to keep arms and goods that could have militant applications out of the hands of the ruling Hamas, which has stated it seeks the destruction of Israel.

Israel generally has aid shipments inspected at the port of Ashdod, with allowed goods, such as food and medical devices, sent to the Gaza Strip over land routes.

The ships in the May 31 flotilla refused orders to divert to Ashdod and, when Israeli personnel bordered the ships, they said they were attacked and acted in self-defense. Nine people were killed on one vessel.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been championing an international investigation into the incident but Netanyahu said, "We don't want a problematic precedent to be set here for future events."

There are plans for additional shipments of aid to try to break the blockade. The Iranian Red Crescent is reportedly dispatching a pair of vessels and Iran said it would be willing to send Iranian Revolutionary Guard ships to escort such shipments.

Also Monday, Israeli forces killed several men -- various reports said four or five -- in diving gear who were allegedly trying to carry out a terrorist attack from the sea.

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