Flotilla to Gaza Set for Late June
by IPT News • May 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm
Last year's sea convoy ended with a deadly raid when passengers attacked Israeli commandos with clubs, knives and other weapons as the commandos tried to board their ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack was organized in advance by IHH head Bulent Yildirim, who recruited approximately 40 IHH activists to carry out the violent confrontation.
The commandos opened fire, killing nine people. Israel imposed the blockade to try to stem the flow of supplies going to the Hamas government in Gaza.
Organizers promise that their Freedom Flotilla II will go on regardless of the consequences.
"But just as Egyptians stayed in Tahrir Square, accepting nothing less than the departure of the former regime, so too we must accept nothing less than a full end of the illegal blockade of Gaza and all forms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine," organizers said.
Zaher Birawi, a Hamas activist who lives in the UK and who also serves as a spokesman for Viva Palestina, said at a flotilla press conference on Monday. "Even if the border is re-opened at Rafah, we will fight to smash the wall of the sea."
At least two members of the European Parliament plan to join the flotilla.
In addition, IHH plans to send a separate boat to Gaza on May 31, the anniversary of last year's flotilla confrontation, laden with aid and construction materials. The ship will dock at Egypt's El Arish Port and the aid will be transported to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, which will be permanently opened by Egypt's interim government.
IHH, the Turkish organization that was behind last year's effort, is accepting applications to join its flotilla contingent. The group helped al-Qaida when Osama Bin Laden "started to want to target U.S. soil," according to French intelligence expert Jean Louis-Bruguiere. It also supported jihadist operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan in the 1990s.
IHH also has ties to the Turkish government and Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan, who strongly supported last year's flotilla. A report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs notes that "a laptop said to have been found on board the flotilla was reported to contain minutes of a meeting held by the organizers shortly before the flotilla launch, in which they asserted that the flotilla had received the director support of the Turkish government, including of Prime Minister Erodgan."
Freedom Flotilla II is comprised of at least 20 organizations from around the world, several of which lead last year's flotilla. A new American organization, U.S. Boat to Gaza, plans to carry up to 60 people from the United States.