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      US Slams 'Provocation' By Activists Planning Flotilla to Gaza

      U.S. officials are taking a dim view of Turkish and European attempts to once again breach Israel's blockade of Gaza with a new flotilla.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 6/2/2011, 4:25 PM / Last Update: 6/2/2011, 5:45 PM

      PMW

      Leaders of countries where the next Gaza flotilla may originate are feeling diplomatic pressure to stop this from happening. This, as Israel is mulling ways to avoid becoming embroiled in another violent scenario similar to the incident that left nine terrorists dead on the Turkish-sponsored Mavi Marmara vessel in the May 2010 flotilla to Gaza.

      U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent letters to a number of countries in the eastern Mediterranean urging them not to send these flotillas to Gaza. In addition, the U.S. is also taking a dim view on the latest attempt by Turkish and European activists to breach Israel's defensive blockade of the terrorist-controlled region.

      Israeli security officials are mulling several alternatives for dealing with the latest flotilla, set for mid-June, including redirecting the vessels to Ashdod port for inspection and then allowing them to continue on their way.

      But U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark C. Toner told reporters at a briefing Wednesday the Obama administration has already discussed the matter with Turkey as well.

      “We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety,” Toner told journalists. “We've raised our concerns with the Turkish government as well, and we've also met and said publicly as well as privately, meeting with some of these NGOs (non-governmental organizations)... about our concerns, about the risk for attempting to break this blockade.”

      Toner reiterated that there already exist “established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza,” and said, “that's been our message consistently.”

      He added that “flotilla actions are indeed provocative, and we don't want to see anybody harmed.”