An international aid boat en route to Gaza
An international aid boat en route to Gaza, November 2008 Photo by AFP
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Israel warned a number of European states that it would not permit leftist-organizations planning to sail to the Gaza Strip with international aid to complete their mission.

The director of European affairs for the Foreign Ministry, Naor Gilon, met separately with envoys from Turkey, Greece, Ireland and Sweden to convey the message that any of their citizens intending to set sail for Gaza would be stopped before they could reach the coastal territory.

Describing such mission as provocative and in violation of Israeli law, Gilon told the diplomats: "Israel has not intention of allowing these sailboats in Gaza."

The Foreign Ministry message essentially entails that anybody who tries to sail to Gaza with aid, or who tries to transfer goods into the Hamas-ruled territory, must do so in accordance with procedure.

The diplomats promised to pass the message along to the appropriate sources, said the Foreign Ministry, with some even offering to help prevent their citizens from attempting the mission.

Earlier Monday, Israeli security forces released a Turkish national arrested this month for allegedly belonging to an outlawed Islamic group, and were set to deport him later in the day.

Izzet Shahin, a volunteer for the Turkish NGO Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), was arrested in the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces and was then transferred to the Shin Bet for investigation.

IHH, who had been organizing a Gaza aid boat planned to depart at the end of the month, was outlawed in Israel a few years ago.

According to the IHH website, the organization had been organizing a "major initiative…to deliver aid via the sea to the Gaza Strip, which has been under an embargo for over three years."

"Hundreds of concerned people will set out on 10 ships in May to take over 5,000 tons of relief aid and materials to Gaza," the website statement said,