3 Jun 2010

Gaza blockade to continue - Israel

9:06 am on 3 June 2010

Israel won't lift its blockade of Gaza.

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended a deadly raid on an aid convoy trying to break the blockade and accused international critics of hypocrisy.

Mr Netanyahu said the blockade of the Palestinian enclave, which is run by Hamas, would continue.

He said that lifting the embargo would turn Gaza into a base for Iranian missiles that would threaten both Israel and Europe.

Mr Netanyahu blamed Iran for backing terrorism in the Gaza strip, saying it regularly uses boats to transfer weapons by sea.

Nine people, four of them Turkish, were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish flagship of the convoy of six ships early on Monday.

Hundreds of others were taken into custody and have now been released and deported.

Mr Netanyahu said it was not a love boat, but a boat of hate. He said the soldiers were met by a vicious mob and had acted to defend themselves.

The incident has sparked widespread concern and increased calls for Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Turkish parliament has issued a resolution calling on the government to review all military and economic ties with Israel.

The resolution came as the cabinet and security chiefs were holding a special meeting about the crisis.

Further confrontation looming

Another aid vessel, the Rachel Corry, has left Italy for Gaza and is expected to arrived in the disputed area early next week.

Jenny Graham, an aid worker on board, says they won't turn back.