The Associated Press reported Tuesday evening that Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told “ultra-Orthodox soldiers in Kiryat Shmona” that “We have a natural right to examine and prevent the inflow of weapons into Gaza … For those who are truly concerned about the [humanitarian] situation in Gaza and wants to bring medical supplies, they are welcome to dock in Ashdod. We will examine [the cargo] and let it in if needed.”
The AP story, published in Haaretz, added that Ashkenazi said: “It is important that we stand up for this right … We cannot allow Gaza to become an Iranian port.”
Referring to plans by Lebanese activists to sail additional aid ships to Gaza despite Israel’s naval blockade, Ashkenazi said: “If they seek peace, that’s how we’ll respond. If not, we will do what we have to do.”
This can be read in full here.
Earlier, the IDF spokespersons website reported that “On Monday (June 21), Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke at the Socialist International Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and explained that, ‘For Israel, the Gaza Strip today is an Iranian military base three kilometers from the closest Israeli city, and 60 kilometers from Tel Aviv. Hamas governs the Gaza Strip forcefully, and cruelly suppresses its political opponents … The ships that were organized throughout the last few weeks to ‘break the blockade’, are actually pure provocation, since there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip’, he said, adding that “any organization wishing to send aid to Gazan civilians is welcome to do so through the Ashdod port: ‘Every day Israel provides, in addition to electricity and water, approximately 150 trucks loaded with equipment, and not only humanitarian aid products. Therefore, any international group or organization interested in sending additional aid, is welcome to do so through the Ashdod port, which in accordance with an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, is also used for the needs of the Gaza Strip … [But] Israel cannot and will not permit free passage for ships delivering munitions to the Gaza coast. As long as a terrorist organization rules in the Gaza Strip, neither Israel nor Egypt will allow the entrance of those cargos. Israel has the right and the obligation to protect itself and it does so within the framework of International Law and the International Humanitarian Law’, he said”. This item is posted on the IDF Spokespersons website here.