US calls flotilla sailing to Gaza "provocative"
The United States warned Friday that activists planning to sail toward the Gaza Strip this month to break an Israeli blockade were taking "provocative" steps and were risking their own safety, dpa reported.
"Groups that seek to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers," the US State Department said.
The State Department recalled the incident that took place a year ago when Israeli forces boarded a flotilla en route to Gaza, resulting in a clash with the activists that left eight people dead.
There are 36 US citizens and four crew members on a US-flagged flotilla called The Audacity of Hope that plans to join other ships in the high seas before sailing toward Gaza.
The sailings are intended to provide humanitarian aide to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The US government has barred the Americans from bringing in supplies, saying there are already adequate internationally recognized mechanisms for moving relief into Gaza.
"We do believe that channels exist for providing humanitarian aid to Gaza in a safe and secure way, and that the situation is improving," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.