With new international missions underway to deliver aid to Gaza, Israel says it will seek ways to block Iranian and Lebanese aid shipments to the besieged strip, referring to them as ‘flow of arms.’
“We have the right to inspect and prevent the flow of arms into Gaza,” Israel’s Ynet news website quoted Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as saying on Tuesday.
“We can’t let Gaza become an Iranian port,” he added.
The remarks come as Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast announced plans to send two Iranian aid ships carrying humanitarian relief and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.
Mehmanparast also said arrangements were being negotiated with the Egyptian government to facilitate the delivery of the shipments to the impoverished people of Gaza.
“We consider Egyptian efforts in opening an aid-delivery route a correct approach,” the Iranian spokesman said, adding that such measures that will help the delivery of aid supplies would be “appreciated by nations.”
Earlier on Monday, Iran’s Red Crescent said two shipments of relief goods and relief workers were due be sent for a 14-day journey to the coastal region by the end of the week.
The Iranian ships will follow a Lebanese aid vessel, the Julia, which is scheduled to set sail for Gaza through Cyprus. With Lebanon and Israel technically still at war, the ship cannot directly sail for the Gaza Strip.
Ashkenazi went on to warn against Lebanon’s aid mission, saying that “If a flotilla comes from Lebanon we will deal with it. If they are peaceful we will deal with it peacefully, if not we will deal with it as we need to.”
The pro-Palestinian campaign by Iran and Lebanon comes after Israeli commandos stormed the Gaza Freedom Flotilla aid convoy on May 31, killing at least 9 civilian activists and injuring dozens of others in international waters.