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Turkey warns Israel over Freedom Flotilla II

With the launch date for Freedom Flotilla II approaching at the end of May, Turkey's Foreign Minister has warned Israel about repeating "last year's mistake" in which Israeli commandos shot dead 9 Turkish civilians and injured dozens of others aboard the Mavi Marmara.
 
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Ahmet Davutoglu said that it was Israel's responsibility to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and that an international commission of inquiry had pronounced the blockade to be illegal.
 
He reminded the world that when last year's massacre took place, those who were killed and wounded were in international waters 116 kilometres from Gaza. The Mediterranean Sea is not, he added, the property of any one state.


At the beginning of the month, the head of the Turkish humanitarian organisation IHH, which organised Freedom Flotilla I, confirmed that the Mavi Marmara will join another fifteen vessels as part of Freedom Flotilla II aiming to break the siege of the Gaza Strip.

Mr Davutoglu said that his government could not prevent IHH activists from organising Freedom Flotilla II; the most it could do was to give them advice.
 
Israel sent a request recently, through its ambassador in Ankara, Gaby Levy, asking Turkey to stop Freedom Flotilla II departing. According to Mr Levy, Israel does not oppose the legal transfer of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip through agencies such as the Turkish Red Cross.
 
In a related matter, US President Barak Obama has invited Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to improve his country's relations with Israel. According to a statement issued by the White House, Obama hoped to exploit the opportunity to improve relations between the two states and asserted that strengthening ties between them was crucial to regional stability.

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