Daily Israel Report

U.S. Warns its Citizens Against Taking Part in Gaza Flotilla

U.S. State Department issues travel warning to the Gaza Strip, saying the area is “dangerous and volatile.”
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/23/2011, 1:09 AM / Last Update: 6/23/2011, 2:15 AM

The United States warned its citizens on Wednesday against participating in the Freedom Flotilla 2, aimed at breaking Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The State Department issued a new travel advisory for Israel, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, saying the Gaza coast is “dangerous and volatile.”

The advisory notes that the IDF “strictly controls the crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip...U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea.”

The warning then goes on to say, “Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel.”

It also notes that “The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek ten-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea.”

The warning by the State Department comes after earlier in the week, a group of Jewish Americans said they planned to take part in this year’s flotilla to Gaza.

The Americans hope to sail from Greece on “The Audacity of Hope” ship. One of them, Jewish activist Leslie Cogan told the French news agency AFP that the flotilla is “a cargo of friendship, a cargo of peace.”

Israel imposed a partial blockade on the Gaza Strip after the Hamas terrorist group ousted the rival Fatah faction in a bloody war more than four years ago. Thousands of tons of humanitarian aid were allowed through land crossings, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last year canceled the blockade on all goods except for material that can be used for the Hamas terrorist infrastructure.

The maritime embargo remains in effect because Hamas can easily use fishing boats to bring into Gaza weapons from Iran and Syria.

Last year, a similar attempt to break the blockade on Gaza resulted in IDF navy officers storming the Mavi Marmara. The so-called ‘peace activists’ on board attempted to lynch the soldiers, who had boarded the ship in accordance with international maritime law.

Nine members of the lynch-mob were killed when the commandos were forced to open fire to save their imperiled comrades.