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Israel Pushes To Head Off Gaza-Bound Flotilla

Israel made a final diplomatic push to halt a flotilla planning to break its embargo of the Gaza Strip and prevent confrontation similar to that of a year ago when nine Turkish activists were killed.

Israel submitted a letter to United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon this week calling the flotilla a provocation “designed only to serve an extremist political agenda.” Israel’s UN Ambassador, Ron Prosor, told Israel Radio on June 23 the flotilla’s scope appears to be diminishing and he hopes that appeals to international leaders may prevent it from sailing.

The U.S. State Department yesterday warned American citizens that taking part in the flotilla may “violate U.S. civil and criminal statues” and lead to fines or incarceration.

Israel imposed the embargo after the Islamic Hamas movement, designated as a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, ending a coalition government with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’sFatah faction a year after winning a parliamentary vote. Palestinians say the restrictions are illegal under international law and impoverish the 1.5 million residents of Gaza, where unemployment is almost 40 percent.


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