IDF Chief: Israel Is Prepared for Challenges Such as the Gaza Flotilla

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz tells audience at an IDF ceremony flotilla is 'a provocation' and 'attempt to de-legitimize Israel'; Defense Minister Ehud Barak says flotilla organizers should work for 'release of Gilad Shalit' at same event.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warned Tuesday that the upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla is merely a provocation, but assured that the Israel Defense Forces is prepared for such a challenge.

"The hate flotilla is just another example of an attempt to delegitimize Israel through provocation," Gantz said during an IDF ceremony for reserve soldiers. "The IDF is prepared for such a challenge as well."

Gaza flotilla ship - Ship Gaza Sweden - June 28 2011
Ship to Gaza Sweden

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, also speaking during the event, warned that the Gaza flotilla is a mere provocation.

"The evidence is clear – there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza," Barak said. "If the Gaza flotilla organizers were sensitive to human suffering, they should redirect their efforts to the immediate release of Gilad Shalit."

On Monday, the Israeli cabinet ordered the IDF to be firm when stopping the Gaza flotilla, while operating with maximal restraint to avoid casualties.

Moreover, Israeli officials also said Monday they had received information that Gaza flotilla activists may try to seriously hurt IDF soldiers with chemicals and weapons. One of the flotilla organizers, however, assured Tuesday that the activists have no intention of attacking IDF soldiers.