As organizers plan a new flotilla aiming to reach Gaza, the lionization of the Mavi Marmara continues in the Middle East. A ceremony in Beirut this week honored the ship where a deadly confrontation took place as IHH operatives on board clashed with Israeli commandos in the Mediterranean Sea May 31st.
"The pouring blood of the Mavi Marmara martyrs for Palestine united the blood of Arabs, Turks and Kurds," IHH head Bulent Yildirim told the audience. "The Mavi Marmara ship constituted a new sense of brotherhood. Israel will be definitely defeated, because we are struggling for the oppressed."
Yildirim placed the ship in a line of infamous vessels, including Noah's Ark and the Titanic.
The ship tried to break an embargo against aid to Gaza's Hamas-led government. Israeli intelligence reports show that Yildirim planned the violent confrontation, which left nine Turks dead. No one was injured on other ships that were part of the flotilla but did not resist when commandos boarded.
In Beirut, plaques of honor were given to Yildirim, IHH executive board members, and relatives of two of the Mavi Marmara "martyrs."
Ahmet Dogan, the father of Furkan Dogan, the only Turk killed with U.S. citizenship, said "Furkan always said there was a price pay for freedom of Palestine. He had done what he said; he paid the price that would end the pain of the Gazan children. We are proud of all the martyrs of the Mavi Marmara as the families."
During a press conference held Tuesday in Beirut, Viva Palestina leader George Galloway announced his organization will participate in the upcoming flotilla, also known as Freedom Flotilla II. "We are not afraid of you. We will return through land…and through sea, and we will prove this to you on May 31st," Galloway said, addressing Israel.
Galloway is scheduled to speak on Saturday in Dearborn, Mich., to raise money for Viva Palestina USA and the U.S. Boat to Gaza, a coalition of organizations and individuals who plan to launch a U.S. boat to participate in the upcoming flotilla. When Galloway tried to visit the United States last month to speak to a series of fundraisers, he was denied entry into the country after airline officials told him there were problems with his visa.