Netanyahu seeks UN help to stop flotilla

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called UN chief Ban Ki-moon and asked him to stop an international flotilla.

Updated: Apr 01, 2011, 20:47 PM IST

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu called UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday and asked him to
stop an international flotilla of ships seeking to break
Israel`s Gaza blockade, his office said.

A statement said Netanyahu told the secretary general
that among the organisers of the flotilla, expected to set
sail next month, are "extremist Islamic elements whose aim is
to create a provocation and bring about a conflagration."

The May sailing of about 15 ships with activists from
25 countries on board is intended to mark the first
anniversary of an Israeli commando raid against a similar, but
smaller, convoy that killed nine Turkish activists, organisers
have said.

Netanyahu told Ban all kinds of goods could now enter
Gaza by land, while the strip`s Hamas rulers sought to smuggle
in arms by sea.

"Hamas is a terror organisation controlled by Iran and
only recently part of the huge effort to arm it and smuggle
arms by sea was exposed with the capture of the `Victoria`,"
the statement quoted him as saying.

The Liberian-flagged Victoria was intercepted by
Israeli naval commandos in mid-March as it sailed around 200
nautical miles west of Israel`s coast.

The army said it was carrying about 50 tonnes of
weapons concealed in containers holding lentils and cotton.

The haul included tens of thousands of rounds of
small-arms ammunition, more than 2,200 mortar bombs and six
Chinese-made C704 anti-ship missiles.

It also included two missile launchers and an advanced
radar system to track targets and guide the missiles.

Israel said the missiles represented an alarming
escalation in attempts to arm militant groups in Gaza and
accused arch-foe Iran of being behind the shipment. Iran
denied any connection to the incident.