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By Ray Fleming

ON 26 May I wrote in this space that the planned “Gaza flotilla” of ships carrying humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza could “only too easily lead to confrontation”. Six days later that prediction proved to be an understatement as the flotilla was intercepted in international waters by Israeli military forces with the consequent loss of life of civilian activist supporters of the people of Gaza. The flotilla was diverted to an Israeli port.

Yesterday the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations warned Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that a similar attempt to reach Gaza with supplies might soon be made from Lebanon and that Israel “reserves the right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from crossing the existing naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.” The ambassador also said that the organisers of this action might be members of Hezbollah. Reports from Beirut say the activists will all be women with humanitarian, especially medical, supplies; Hezbollah has denied any involvement.

Considering the almost universal criticism of Israel for its actions against the previous flotilla it is surprising that it appears to be ready to repeat them. “All necessary means” is an ominous phrase while claims to be acting “under international law” are at least questionable. The solution to this problem, as many leading countries have argued, is for Israel to end completely its inhuman blockade of Gaza.