Clinton: Gaza flotilla a bid to provoke Israel

By MATTHEW LEE | June 23, 2011 | 4:59 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is criticizing activists planning to challenge Israel's sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying their efforts are neither "necessary or useful" in helping the Palestinian people of Gaza.

A day after the State Department warned Americans against participating in the planned flotilla, Clinton said Thursday that the effort, which Israel has said it will thwart, was not helpful. She said the aim of the organizers appeared to be to merely provoke Israel into taking action that it has every right to do to defend itself.

Clinton also noted that Israeli authorities had this week approved new shipments of housing construction material to enter Gaza legally.