JERUSALEM — Israel’s UN envoy has told the world body that the Jewish state is entitled to use “all necessary force” to prevent activists sailing from Lebanon to Gaza, Israeli media reported on Saturday.
In a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported by radio stations and Internet news sites, Ambassador Gabriella Shalev was quoted as saying that Israel suspects that organisers may be linked to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
“Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the existing naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the website of newspaper Haaretz quoted her as writing.
“It appears that a small number of ships plan to depart from Lebanon and sail to the Gaza Strip which is under the control of the Hamas terrorist regime,” she added.
“While those who organise this action claim that they wish to break the blockade on Gaza and to bring humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, the true nature of the actions remains dubious.”
A group of dozens of Lebanese women activists is planning to set sail for Gaza on a ship loaded with medical supplies in a new bid to break Israel’s four-year blockade of the Palestinian territory.
Hezbollah on Friday denied it was backing an all-women aid flotilla planning to sail from Lebanon to Gaza, saying that it did not want to give Israel a pretext to attack the activists.
Israel came under international censure over its May 31 seizure of a six-ship aid fleet bound for Gaza, in which nine Turkish activists were shot dead by naval commandos in clashes on the lead boat.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday warned Lebanon that it would be responsible for any “violent and dangerous confrontation” with any vessel sailing to Gaza from its shores.
Last year, a Lebanese freighter which tried to deliver aid to Gaza was intercepted by Israeli warships.