The US Department of State has issued international travel advice to its citizens strongly urging against any travel to the Gaza Strip.
In an update to previous travel advice from August 2010, the State Department notably warned US citizens “against participation in any attempt to reach Gaza by sea.” The travel update continued with the stark message that past attempts to arrive in Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and “resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens.” A previous attempt to reach Gaza by sea on May 31st 2010 as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla resulted in the death of eight Turkish and one US national while on board the Mavi Marmara, the notice said and PNN reported.
Speaking to the AFP, State Department officials admitted the update was an endeavour to dissuade US citizens from joining the upcoming Gaza flotilla. Earlier this week it was announced that US citizens would be participating in the flotilla on a boat named “The Audacity of Hope’.
Freedom Flotilla 2 is attempting to break the blockade by sailing to Gaza later this month.
According to Al-Jazeera report, 36 U.S. rights activists announced they will set sail to the Gaza Strip on board the sequel of an aid flotilla that was lethally attacked by Israeli naval forces in May 2010.
They said at a Monday press conference in New York that they would take part on the Audacity of Hope ship, one of the fifteen slated to join the international aid flotilla. The ship was named after U.S. President Barack Obama’s best-selling book.
The activists said they understand the risks involved as Israel has issued repeated official threats that it would use military force to thwart the flotilla.
A friend close to Obama helped initiate the ship in July of last year. At the time, he announced it would carry $370,000 worth of humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.