Turkey has rejected a request by Israel to stop a new Gaza flotilla due to take activists and humanitarian aid to the impoverished coastal sliver, saying Ankara will not interfere, a report says.
A second “peace” flotilla, comprising of more than 15 ships, is preparing to set sail in the second half of May to mark the first anniversary of the deadly Israeli attack on a similar flotilla on May 31 of last year, which killed nine activists aboard the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara.
The move is another attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip, put in place since 2007 after Hamas assumed power following a democratic election in the enclave, Turkey's Today's Zaman reported on Friday.
Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Gaby Levy, asked the Turkish government this week to help stop the activists heading toward Gaza, but a Turkish foreign ministry official responded by saying that, according to his government, the flotilla plan was not Ankara's 'concern.'
In a similar move, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu urged Europe on Monday to do all it can to prevent its nationals from taking part in the flotilla.
“This flotilla must be stopped” under any condition, Netanyahu told European ambassadors in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Since the attack on the Turkish vessel, Ankara has scaled back ties with Tel Aviv, demanding Israel's apology and compensations for the damages incurred in the attack, which also drew international condemnation.