WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration said sea-bound aid to Gaza is "irresponsible."
"Mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so," a U.S. State Department release said Wednesday, in response to a reporter's question about Lebanese plans to ship aid to the Gaza Strip. "Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances."
Israel last month raided an aid flotilla attempting to breach its blockade of the strip, imposed to squeeze the Hamas terrorist leadership. Five boats were rerouted peacefully, but clashes aboard a sixth Turkish-flagged ship resulted in the deaths of nine passengers and the wounding of seven Israeli troops, setting off an international incident.
Since then, Israel has loosened the blockade to allow in all goods except for those that potentially could provide Hamas with arms.
The State Department statement said the policy of transferring assistance through Israel had the backing of the international community through the Quartet, the grouping of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia that guides the Middle East peace process.
"We, along with our partners in the Quartet, urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza," it said. "There is no need for unnecessary confrontations, and we, along with our partners in the Quartet, call on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza."