Netanyahu: Israel Will Not Allow Establishment of Iranian Port in Gaza

PM says passengers on Gaza bound ship Rachel Corrie were peace activists, as opposed to violent clashes with 'Islamic radicals' on Gaza flotilla earlier this week.

Speaking after he was updated Saturday on the peaceful takeover of the Gaza bound aid ship "Rachel Corrie," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would "not allow the establishment of an Iranian port in Gaza."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday, 3 June, 2010.
Getty images

Israel's Navy troops boarded the Irish-flagged ship and directed it toward the Israeli port city of Ashdod. The move came after warnings that Israel would not allow the vessel to reach Gaza, which is under blockade by Israel, and several days after an Israel Navy takeover of the Turksih-flagged boat Mavi Marmara headed for the Hamas-ruled coastal strip ended in violent clashes and the deaths of nine passengers.

"The only difference was with one ship where extremist Islamic activists, supporters of terrorism, waited for our troops on the deck with axes and knives," Netanyahu said referring to the clashes on the Mavi Marmara boat.

"Today we saw the difference between a peace flotilla, that we disagree with the activists' views but respect their right to express themselves, and a hate flotilla which was organized by violent radicals who support terrorism," Netanyahu said.

"In both instances Israel behaved exactly the same way to enforce the blockade on Gaza, aimed to prevent weapons' smuggling to the Hamas and to enable civilian goods to enter Gaza after inspection," Netanyahu said.

"On the ship today, and aboard five of the six ships in the previous flotilla, the takeover was carried out without any casualties," he said, adding that "Israel will continue to exercise its right to self defense."

An Israel Defense Forces official said after the military takeover that  "they behaved like peace activists and not like murderers."

The Rachel Corrie was later escorted by the IDfF to the Israeli port city of Ashdod.