Turkey vows to challenge Israel at sea

Related: The Mavi Marmara Massacre

PressTV – Thu Sep 8, 2011 11:0PM GMT

Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will flex its naval muscles in the Mediterranean, providing a warship escort for any Gaza aid vessels.
Turkey has announced that last year’s Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy would not be repeated since Ankara intends to deploy navy patrols and warships in the Mediterranean to accompany and protect next Gaza-bound aid vessels.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday in an interview with the Al Jazeera TV network that Turkey has taken steps to stop the Israeli regime from unilaterally exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported.

“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Erdogan said.

He added, “From now on, we will not let these ships to be attacked by Israel, as what happened with the Freedom Flotilla.”

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been at their lowest ebb since Israeli forces attacked the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 in international waters, leaving nine Turkish activists dead.

Last week, Ankara suspended its military ties with the Israeli regime and downgraded its diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to apologize to Turkey over the killing of its citizens.

In addition to an apology, Turkey has demanded that Israel end the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, where Tel Aviv has besieged 1.6 million Palestinians in a 360-square-kilometer coastal territory.

Erdogan said that Turkey will boost its naval presence in eastern Mediterranean to challenge Israel’s domination in the sea.

In a reference to Israeli plans to exploit huge gas and oil reserves found beneath the Mediterranean Sea that are claimed by Lebanon, Erdogan said Turkish forces will stop Israel from exploiting natural resources in the area.

On July 26, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah also warned Israel to keep its hands off Lebanon’s offshore gas and oil reserves in its territorial waters.

“We warn Israel against extending its hands to this area to steal Lebanon’s resources from Lebanese waters,” he said. “Until Lebanon decides to exploit this area, Israel must be warned against extending its hands to it.”

The Turkish prime minister stated, “You know that Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean.”

“You will see that it will not be the owner of this right, because Turkey, as a guarantor of the Turkish republic of north Cyprus, has taken steps in the area, and it will be decisive and holding fast to the right to monitor international waters in the east Mediterranean,” he added.



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