Israeli ambassador Michael Lavon-Lotem: Tonight’s incident was a provocation

Israeli ambassador Michael Lavon-Lotem: Tonight’s incident was a provocation
# 31 May 2010 16:56 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Lachin Sultanova – APA. Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan Michael Lavon-Lotem’s exclusive interview to APA

-How many people were killed in the incident between the ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip and the Israeli Armed Forces?

-According to the present reports, 15 have been killed. In general the spread of the reports began with rumors. Various reports have spread, later the head of the crew confirmed that 15 had been killed. But this is not exact information.

-Are there the representatives of Israeli Naval Forces among the dead?

-All of the dead are persons on board the Mavi Marmara ship. 5 Israeli soldiers were wounded during the incident, 2 of them are in critical condition.

-Does the Mavi Marmara ship belong to Turkey?

-I do not know under which flag the ship was sailing, but the ship is owned by a nongovernmental organization IHH. This is a tourist organization, this organization supports the terrorists, it has links with HAMAS and Al-Qaeda. I wonder the incident happened only in one of the six ships and the ship, where the incident occurred, is owned by IHH that supports the terrorists.

-Did the Israeli Armed Forces ordered all of the ships or only the Mavi Marmara ship to stop?

-It was ordered to all the six ships. The commander ordered all the ships to stop, but the Marmara said “We will not stop”.

-Did the other ships stop?

-None of them stopped, each of them tried to persuade that they had peaceful goal. The other five ships did not move, but the Mavi Marmara reacted.

-How did it react?

-It was fired twice, one of the persons on board the ship seized the gun from the soldier and fired. So, several persons on board the ship were killed. They had cold arms, but they also seized the firearms from the Israeli soldiers. We should touch on several points in order to clarify this scene. The Gaza Strip is ruled by HAMAS, even Palestine itself does not want to admit that it is ruled by HAMAS. HAMAS and Hezbollah are almost fraternal organizations, they can be called Iran’s arms in our region. In general, the Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel from the east and north and by Egypt from the desert for two years.

Tonight’s incident was a provocation. I would like to underline several points. First, the containers with food products and construction materials are checked and then carried to the Gaza Strip. Secondly, we offered the persons on board the ships to approach to Ashdod port so that in their presence the goods can be checked. They could appeal to Egypt whenever they liked, they could carry the aid to the Gaza Strip through Egypt. I think that most may ask – Why did they want to reach that territory by themselves? Maybe they had something banned in their ships and they feared that after checking the goods would not be allowed to the Gaza Strip?

-Had aid been carried to the Gaza Strip by ships before?

-I would not call it aid. Most of the aid comes from the UN and Arabic countries and is carried to the Gaza Strip through Jordan and Ashdod port. As regards this incident, it would be inconceivable to say that it was aid. It was not aid, it was a provocation. You will get wet if you go out without umbrella in rainy weather.

-Had Israel been informed beforehand about the aid?

-Most of the European countries do not approach this process positively, most wanted to avoid this idea, they could delay it for some time. For example, 4 ships were to leave Cyprus, but did not leave. We are trying to negotiate with most of the European countries diplomatically in order to persuade them that if they want to help Gaza Strip they should choose the other way.

-Are these ships and their crew under the control of Israel at present? Do the examinations prove your forecasts?

-The occurrence is on the initial stage. Therefore no information is given. But very likely we will get interesting information today, or tomorrow.

-Turkey has issued a strict statement, the UN and other international organizations condemned the incident. What is Israel’s position on these statements?

-Israeli Foreign Minister has talked over the phone with most ministers, tried to explain several main points to them. I have just received information that Turkey recalled its ambassador. We should try to follow the reaction of the Arab world. Egypt and Jordan have very specific reactions, I would say they understand better the happenings in the region than the remote countries.
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