On June 22, 2011, the American State Department released an updated travel warning for Israel and the Occupied Territories. The update signified that it was issued “to warn against participation in any attempt to reach Gaza by sea.” The warning is likely in light of the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” of humanitarian activists setting out any day now to break the blockade of Gaza enforced by the Israeli military.
Last year, a similar attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine people, including an American.
The State Department warning says:
The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. […] On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt.
Photo: The Libyan ship Amalthea. On 4 July 2010, an aid group in Egypt unloaded aid supplies from the Libyan ship Amalthea. The Tripoli-based Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation had wanted the ship to take the supplies directly to Gaza. Israeli missile ships had been shadowing the Amalthea since Wednesday morning to ensure that it would not reach Gaza. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley urged Libya ‘to avoid confrontation and allow the Israelis to inspect the vessel with 2,000 tons of aid supplies’…