In recent days, Israel prodded Qatar, a 'friendly' Persian Gulf nation, into calling off a delegation preparing to transport aid from Cyprus to Gaza, according to officials briefed on what they said were high-level talks.
Hours before a Qatar aid group was scheduled to board a boat Thursday with $2 million in cancer medication, they abruptly canceled the trip.
The Qatar charity would have been the first such Arab aid group to challenge Israel's ban on international boats traveling to Gaza.
Instead, Israel urged Qatar officials to send any Gaza-bound aid via Israel, Israeli government officials said.
"The message was delivered, not only to them, but to anybody else that wanted to transfer aid to Gaza, that there is a mechanism on how to do it," said Andy David, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry. "We will not change our policy, which gives us the option on how to do it, while not allowing unauthorized boats to reach Gaza."
(As the Free Gaza organization has proven, Israel has no authority to stop anyone carrying aid to the suffering Gazans, since its Blockade itself is a crime, a violation of International Law.)
Last week, according to Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the Qatar government asked Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for permission to send aid to Gaza.
The government quickly rejected the request.
(So Israel says "There is a mechanism", and then denies them access to it. Israel has created a consistent pattern of such deceptive brutality.)
"We have no intention of setting up a shipping line to Gaza," a source in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office told Yedioth Ahronoth. "Israel's policy is to maintain the siege placed on Hamas government in Gaza, and there is no reason to give in to provocations."
But Palestinian supporters have been looking for alternate routes to get aid to Gaza because Israel is letting in drastically reduced amounts of aid.
Among Arab nations, Qatar has a relatively open relationship with Israel. The two countries established trade relations in 1996 and Israel maintains a small trade office in Doha.
Earlier this year, Livni made a rare visit to Qatar to (allegedly) attend a pro-democracy forum. Her attendance prompted a boycott by some Arab participants.
(Internal sources suggested that she was really there in order to shore up Qatari support for an Israeli strike against Iran.)
Qatar was not the only recipient of Israel's get-tough message.
On Sunday, Israeli authorities thwarted a group of Arab-Israeli (and Jewish) leaders and activists making their latest attempt to challenge the Gaza restrictions.