Despite calls from the UN, Israel continues its plot to intercept the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.
Israel's foreign ministry said it had given warnings to the ambassadors of Ireland, Cyprus, Greece, Sweden and Turkey - from where the ships set sail - that it had "issued warrants that prohibit the entrance of the vessels to Gaza".
This statement comes in the midst of Israeli preparations for a massive outdoor detention centre in the Israeli port of Ashdod and ongoing diplomatic attempts by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to prevent the Freedom Flotilla from reaching Gaza. Israel has vowed to divert the ships to Ashdod, by force if necessary, where all Israeli participants will be arrested, Palestinians will be questioned by Israeli secret police and internationals will be deported or held in a detention centre if they refuse deportation.
John Ging, Head of United Nation's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip since 2006 has asked the international community to "bring us the supplies we need to rebuild schools and run them, bring us the equipment we need to hospitals and health centers. Everybody knows how desperate the situation is in the Gaza Strip after almost three years of blockade. We need action now."
However the Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Yossi Gal, said that the flotilla was "an absolute provocation" and a "cheap political stunt". Israel has entered into a full scale PR battle against the Freedom Flotilla by attempting to propagate the myth that there is no aid crisis in Gaza, despite Israel's illegal three-year-old blockade of the tiny coastal strip.
Dr. Fintan Lane, one of the 11 Irish activists on board the flotilla, said that they were determined to break Israel's blockade and will not be intimidated: "The people of Gaza have a right to access to the outside world and the right to determine their own future. If Israel attempts to stop the flotilla, they will once again show their true colours to the international community."
The Irish members of a Parliamentary delegation travelling to Gaza on the flotilla have this morning written to the father of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier in captivity in Gaza, in response to a letter received by the Free Gaza movement in which Shalit's parents asked that letters and parcels from Shalitís family be given to their son.
Aengus ” Snodaigh TD, Chris Andrews TD and Senator Mark Daly have agreed to personally hand the letters and parcels to the Red Cross in Gaza or to their fellow Irishman John Ging, head of UNRWA in Gaza. They have also agreed to reiterate their call for the release of Gilad Shalit when they reach Gaza.