Iran has warned that it could send Revolutionary Guard naval units to escort humanitarian aid convoys seeking to break the Israeli blockade ofGaza – a move that would certainly be challenged by Israel.
Any such Iranian involvement, raised today by an aide to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would constitute a serious escalation of already high tensions with Israel, which accuses Tehran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon and of backing Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza.
“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard naval forces are prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys that carry humanitarian assistance for the defenceless and oppressed people of Gaza with all their strength,” pledged Hojjatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s personal representative to the guards corps.
The threat came as the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, dismissed a UN proposal for an international commission to investigate last week’s commando assault on aid ships, in which nine people died. Another aid ship, the Rachel Corrie, carrying Irish and other peace activists, was boarded peacefully by Israeli forces on Saturday, escorted to the port of Ashdod, and its passengers deported.