Israel Asks U.S. to Ban Turkish Charity Behind Gaza Flotilla

IHH is banned in Israel over its alleged support for Hamas; WikiLeaks shows U.S. has expressed concern over its link to terror group.

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Israel has asked the United States to consider outlawing the Turkish Islamist group behind a flotilla that tried to break Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in May, Israeli officials said on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman requested the outlawing of the IHH, or Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, at a meeting with visiting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday.

Pro-Palestinian Turks protest out the home of Israel's ambassador to Turkey following the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, on Tuesday June 1, 2010.Credit: AP

The IHH is a prominent Turkish charity banned in Israel over its alleged support for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that appears on Israeli, U.S. and EU terrorist lists.

The IHH describes itself as an aid group. It organized a Gaza-bound flotilla which was intercepted last May by the Israeli Navy. Commandos stormed one of the ships and killing nine Turkish activists after a brutal fight.

The once-strong ties between Turkey and Israel hit rock-bottom as a result of the incident. Turkey has demanded an apology and compensation, which Israel has refused.

The U.S. embassy in Israel did not immediately return a call for comment on Lieberman's request.

A U.S. diplomatic cable from December 2009 and published by WikiLeaks said a U.S. Treasury official who visited Ankara "raised concerns about IHH" and described it as "a large NGO providing material assistance to Hamas".



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