POSTED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 5:35pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 1, 2011 - 11:15pm
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged the U.S. attorney general to take action Wednesday against Americans who plan to take part in a pro-Palestinian protest by sailing to the Gaza Strip to challenge an Israeli naval blockade.
Perry wrote that he had information that American citizens were aboard two U.S.-flagged ships that plan to challenge the blockade on the Gaza Strip. He urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take legal steps to stop them from taking part, or to prosecute them if they make the attempt.
"The state of Israel is a friend and critical ally of the United States, and the only stable democracy in an increasingly unstable and hostile region," wrote Perry, a vocal supporter of Israel who is considering a run for president in 2012. "These initiatives to breach Israel's maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip is an unacceptable provocation."
Under federal law, anyone who "prepares a means for, or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition" against a friendly country can be fined or jailed for three years. Perry also suggested that Holder prosecute the protesters for providing materials or assistance to a terrorist organization.
Israel has enforced a Gaza border blockade since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized the territory in 2007. Last year, an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel. Each side blamed the other for the violence.