Last year's Turkish-flagged ship, MV Mavi Marmara, that Israeli forces attacked
Source: Press TV
Hamas has called on the UN to provide protection for the second Freedom Flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid to the impoverished Gaza Strip.
"The United Nations and all international law organizations should provide protection to the second flotilla that is preparing to sail to the Gaza Strip. The world must stop Israel from intercepting the ships," democratically-elected Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday.
He said the Israeli regime was preparing to commit another crime against the international activists, Xinhua reported.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the first Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, killing nine Turkish citizens on board the Turkish-flagged M.V. Mavi Marmara and injuring about 50 other people who were part of the team on the six-ship convoy.
This year's flotilla, however, is expected to be nearly twice as large, with some 1,000 activists from over 30 countries.
Israeli officials have already stressed that no boats would be permitted to enter the Gaza coast.
Israeli Navy head Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom had earlier called on world leaders to "impose all their authority to prevent the departure of this needless, provocative flotilla."
Israel's closest ally, the United States, has sided with Tel Aviv claiming that sending a new aid flotilla to the blockaded Gaza Strip would be "irresponsible" and "provocative."
In a statement on Friday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland warned international activists against trying to break the Israeli-imposed blockade on the coastal enclave.