State Department: Flotilla is ‘irresponsible’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration said passengers aboard a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip "are taking irresponsible and provocative actions."

A State Department statement Friday noted plans to launch a flotilla Saturday, a year and a month after Israeli commandoes raided a similar flotilla, killing nine activists.

"We are concerned that a number of groups are organizing a one year ‘anniversary’ flotilla to commemorate the incident by sailing from various European ports to Gaza in the near future," the statement said. "Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers."

It warned that Americans involved in delivering good to Hamas could face legal jeopardy.

"Delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration," it said.

The statement said that Israel had considerably eased the entry of goods and medicines into Gaza and called Israel’s screening of incoming sea traffic "appropriate."

The announcement comes two days after the State Department issued a travel warning to its citizens against traveling to Gaza by sea. There are expected to be at least 36 Americans aboard the planned flotilla, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker.

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