Friday, 17 June 2011

Storm Troopers Prepare to Attack Flotilla

The Israel Navy was preparing for a major exercise that could block attempts to shatter the siege on the Gaza Strip.

The Navy has scheduled an exercise in the Mediterranean Sea for June 22. Military sources said the exercise would focus on interception and boarding of hostile ships and seek to simulate a flotilla of ships destined for the Gaza Strip.

"This exercise will be key in stopping any flotilla to Gaza," a military source said.

The exercise was planned in wake of the bloody naval interception of a Turkish-flagged six-ship flotilla in May 2010. Nine people, eight of them Turks, were killed in a battle between naval commandos and at least 100 Islamic resisters on the Mavi Marmara.

"Our assessment is that this flotilla will not bring any lethal material," the source said. "But if they succeed in getting through, the next flotilla will be used to smuggle in weapons or explosives."

The sources said the naval exercise would prepare for the arrival of a larger flotilla to the Gaza Strip. They said up to 22 ships were preparing to meet near the island of Cyprus and then sail toward the Hamas-ruled entity.

The exercise was meant to demonstrate the Navy's skills in intelligence, interception and boarding as well as detention of resisters. The sources said the exercise could also deter organizers from launching the flotilla.

"We have fine combatants who know how to operate in the best possible way," a naval officer said.

Congressional initiatives target P.A.
A number of initiatives are circulating in Congress targeting the Palestinians in the wake of their diplomatic tensions with Israel.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) this week circulated through the Republican Study Committee, the GOP's influential conservative caucus, a proposal to introduce a Palestinian Accountability Act, legislation that would condition support for the Palestinian Authority on its willingness to negotiate, its efforts to combat terrorism and incitement, and its recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. It cites as bad faith the P.A.'s recent efforts to obtain recognition of statehood through the United Nations.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) this week sought signatories for a letter to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, appealing to him to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority in the wake of its intention to establish a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist groups controlling the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) published a report following his visit to Israel earlier this month with Chicago's Jewish federation that made many similar calls, including cutting off aid to any P.A.-Hamas unity government and in case the Palestinians seek U.N. recognition.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in a rare public release, accused the P.A. of engaging in "diplomatic warfare" against Israel through its U.N. efforts and its setting of preconditions for a return to talks.

These latest efforts join a number of congressional initiatives that would reject any pressure on Israel to return to the 1967 borders.

President Obama in a May 19 policy speech said Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be renewed on the basis of the 1967 borders, but with mutually agreed land swaps and extensive security guarantees for Israel.

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