While the debate over mosque development in New York continues to dominate the news cycle, opposing sides in the Israeli blockade on Gaza are gearing up for a new round of confrontations that could take place as soon as next month.
Although the list of items restricted from entering Gaza has been dramatically reduced, George Galloway, the ex-British MP who runs the group Viva Palestina, promises a new land convoy leaving from London, Casablanca and Doha September 18. Galloway has made it clear his mission has more to do with supporting Hamas than with supplying Palestinians in Gaza with aid. Medical supplies, baby formula and other goods promised for the flotilla currently flow into Gaza from both Israeli and Egyptian borders.
A coalition of European groups is promising a separate flotilla by year's end.
Israeli navy commandos, meanwhile, are training on how to deal with violent and armed flotilla passengers without getting hurt and possibly without hurting their attackers. The BBC's Jane Corbin spent time with the Special Forces unit as it trained at sea on a ship similarly proportioned to the Mavi Marmara ship in the last flotilla.
Soldiers showed their stab wounds and a video attached to her story shows the training includes the possibility of encountering a suicide bomber on a flotilla ship. Corbin interviewed retired Major General Giora Eiland, who conducted an Israeli investigation into the May 31 confrontation on the Mavi Marmara that left nine passengers dead. "We have very clear evidence that in at least four cases the other side did use live fire," he said. "In some they used Israeli weapons stolen from our soldiers - in at least one case they used their weapon because we found bullets and shells not used by Israeli forces."
If Galloway wants to deliver money and supplies to Gaza, trying to run Israeli navy ships on the Mediterranean Sea is his only available route. Egypt declared him persona non grata in January after his last convoy culminated in riots at the Egyptian-Gaza border in violence that left an Egyptian officer shot dead.
Galloway's Turkish partner, IHH, one of the organizers of the deadly May flotilla, is under investigation by U.S. authorities over its possible terrorist connections. IHH is participating in Galloway's latest Viva Palestina venture.