IHH Netherlands was designated by the Dutch Foreign Ministry Wednesday as a terrorist organization. All assets of the organization have been frozen and transactions with IHH Netherlands are prohibited.
IHH is a Turkish-based organization that has extensive ties to Hamas, and was behind the flotilla that triggered last year's deadly confrontation with Israeli commandos in the Mediterranean Sea. Germany banned the Frankfurt-based IHH group last July for funneling money to Hamas. The Turkish IHH organization denied having any ties with the Frankfurt organization; however, German media reports suggested cooperation between the two groups.
IHH Netherlands was founded in 1993 in Amsterdam during the Bosnian war. Its connections to the Turkish IHH remain unclear; IHH in Turkey denies having any links with organizations in Europe that utilize its same name and logo.
IHH Netherlands is not planning to take part in the upcoming flotilla to Gaza, or Freedom Flotilla II, of which the Turkish IHH is one of the leading organizers.
The United States is considering a designation of the Turkish IHH (Insan Haklari Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi). "I believe we're looking at the IHH, but it's a long process to designate something – an organization a Foreign Terrorist Organization and there's nothing to announce on that," State Department spokesman Marc C. Toner said last July. In a letter to members of Congress the next month, State's Office of Legislative Affairs said "U.S. government agencies are taking a close look at IHH" for designation by the Treasury Department because "serious questions of support to terrorist organizations have been raised."
Israel banned the Turkish IHH in 2008 because it is a member of the Union of Good, and added it to its terror watch list last June. The Union of the Good was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2008 for its financial support to Hamas. "In addition to providing cover for Hamas financial transfers, some of the funds transferred by the Union of Good have compensated Hamas terrorists by providing payments to the families of suicide bombers," according to the Treasury press release.
Freedom Flotilla II, led by IHH and several other pro-Palestinian organizations, plans to sail to Gaza following the Turkish elections in June with 15 to 20 ships. Some news reports suggest that plans for this year's flotilla are meeting with difficulty, stating that some people cancelled after signing up for the flotilla after learning they could be arrested in Israel. Furthermore, ship owners may refuse to donate or loan ships for the operation because they can be confiscated by Israel as well. Nonetheless, IHH has remained defiant in its mission to sail to Gaza.
IHH head Bulent Yildirim told an audience in Turkey earlier this month, "The Mediterranean does not belong to Israel... Just because we have had shahids [martyrs], we are not fearful... We will not step back... Let all know this: Until the blockade on Gaza is lifted... and until our march to al-Aqsa is completed, this sea intifada and land intifada will continue!"