The Israeli human rights organization GISHA sent around an email Tuesday stating that “In response to the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement that those seeking to send humanitarian assistance to Gaza by ship should transfer the goods via Israel ‘in accordance with procedure’: Gisha notes that despite a Freedom of Information Act petition pending in the Tel Aviv District Court, Israel refuses to reveal even the simplest procedures regarding how to transfer goods into Gaza, including which goods are permitted or banned. Since 2007, Israel has restricted the entrance of civilian goods into Gaza, as part of a policy of collective punishment … For more information about Israel ‘s policy restricting goods into Gaza and Gisha’s Freedom of Information Act petition, see: here.
The GISHA statement was responding to an article published in Haaretz on Monday, written by Jack Khoury + Barak Ravid, reported on Monday that “The director of European affairs for the Foreign Ministry, Naor Gilon, met separately with envoys from Turkey, Greece, Ireland and Sweden to convey the message that any of their citizens intending to set sail for Gaza would be stopped before they could reach the coastal territory. Describing such mission as provocative and in violation of Israeli law, Gilon told the diplomats: ‘Israel has not intention of allowing these sailboats in Gaza’. The Foreign Ministry message essentially entails that anybody who tries to sail to Gaza with aid, or who tries to transfer goods into the Hamas-ruled territory, must do so in accordance with procedure. The diplomats promised to pass the message along to the appropriate sources, said the Foreign Ministry, with some even offering to help prevent their citizens from attempting the mission”. This is published here.
UPDATE: The Irish Times has published a bit more information on this meeting in an article authored by Israeli journalist Mark Weiss, who says that “IRELAND’S AMBASSADOR to Israel has urged the Israeli authorities to take every precaution to ensure the safety of Irish citizens travelling aboard aid boats heading for Gaza. The plea from ambassador Briefne O’Reilly came during a meeting at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem on Monday where he was informed by the ministry’s director of European affairs, Naor Gilon, that Irish peace activists, together with other European participants in the ‘freedom flotilla’, will be turned back by Israeli naval patrols before they reach the shores of Gaza. ‘We are closely monitoring the situation and urge restraint on all sides’, Mr O’Reilly said. ‘We need to avoid escalation or confrontation to ensure a peaceful outcome which will enable the safe delivery of these humanitarian supplies’ … …Mr Gilon condemned the latest attempt to bypass Israel’s blockade on Gaza as ‘a provocation and a breach of Israeli law’. Activists aboard the [Irish-registered] 1,200-ton cargo ship Rachel Corrie, named after an American who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, have vowed to defy the Israeli blockade.” This can be read in full here.
Some eight other ships are about to set sail from Greece and Turkey, and all plan to rendez-vous somewhere in the Mediterranean before proceeding towards Gaza.