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Lapid: There Is Nothing Humanitarian About Gaza Flotilla

The organizers said the three ships were named the Juliano II, the Rachel and the Vittorio.

Activists aboard the Marianne included Israeli Arab MK Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List), former Tunisian President Mohammed al-Marzouki and left-wing radical and former Israeli Dror Feiler.

In a statement, the flotilla organizers assessed that they would reach Gaza by Wednesday, July 1, unless detained by Israeli forces. A warm welcome is being prepared in Gaza, with festive Palestinian flags already adorning the fishing port in the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, the Knesset was also preparing for the arrival of the ships in Gaza. Knesset House Committee Chairman David Bitan (Likud) said over the weekend that he plans to convene the committee to vote on stripping MK Ghattas of his diplomatic passport and limiting his ability to travel over his participation in the flotilla.

Bitan said: “Last week’s decision to file a complaint against Ghattas with the Knesset Ethics Committee is not enough for me. I will try to pass a decision to take away Ghattas’ freedom of movement, because he is undermining Israel’s sovereignty while hiding behind the immunity it provides.”

Such a decision requires a majority vote in the House Committee after allowing Ghattas to defend his position.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also voiced his opposition to the flotilla on Saturday, declaring that “there is nothing humanitarian about supporting a murderous terrorist organization,” referring to Gaza rulers Hamas.

The IDF meanwhile declared that the flotilla would not be permitted to reach the Gaza shore. “We understand that the activists have no intention of reaching the Gaza shore and turning back around. This is a provocation,” said a source in the IDF.

“The military is prepared to stop the vessels, with everything that this entails. The conduct will be the same as it was in the past. If required, troops will embark on the ships,” the source added.

Other military sources have surmised that the activists will not stage any violence or resistance. But should the Israeli commandos feel the need to embark on the ships to subdue violent activists, “the protocol will be very simple,” one source explained. “The IDF will approach the captain, explaining the option of docking at the Ashdod port. It will be further explained that after a security check, the supplies aboard the ship can be transferred to Gaza. If the captain declines, the IDF will have to board the ship and stop the activists.”

Greek activist and one of the organizers for the Greek volunteers, Vangelis Pissias, said the flotilla participants wanted to highlight the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“We are contributing to find a solution to a problem that disgraces humanity, the concentration camp that is in Palestine. We want to shut down this concentration camp and we want peace in the region,” Pissias said.

At a monthly briefing of the UN Security Council, Undersecretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in a statement on June 24 that the “flotilla would not help to address the dire situation in Gaza.”

He reiterated his call on the government of Israel to lift all closures, with due consideration of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

The top United Nations political official told the Security Council that without “positive efforts by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to move peace negotiations forward, tensions and violence in the region could only worsen.”

By Daniel Siryoti, Gideon Allon/Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

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