JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel must continue diplomatic efforts to prevent a new Gaza flotilla, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu met Wednesday with his inner Cabinet, called the Forum of Seven, to discuss ways to thwart the new flotilla, which reportedly has been delayed until after June 12 parliamentary elections in Turkey.
Netanyahu instructed the ministers to continue diplomatic efforts to halt the flotilla, according to a statement issued after the meeting. He also ordered Israeli security forces to prepare to meet the flotilla and enforce Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
"The purpose of the blockade is to prevent the smuggling of weapons to terror organizations and prevent attacks on Israel," the statement said.
The flotilla is being organized by pro-Palestinian groups in Europe and the United States, and by the Turkish IHH organization, an Islamic aid group that sent last year’s flotilla in which nine Turkish activists, including a Turkish-American dual citizen, were killed when Israel’s Navy intercepted one of its ships, the Mavi Marmara.
Some 20 ships, including the Marmara, are scheduled to take part in the new flotilla.
Ynet reported Wednesday that organizers are having a hard time recruiting activists, vessels and crew members for the new flotilla, saying many fear a confrontation with Israeli naval commandoes should their ship be intercepted.