Wed, Aug 11, 2010 | Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Gaza Flotilla Ships Returned to Turkey, IHH Said More Flotillas Could Be Expected
Update on Flotillas and Convoys to the Gaza Strip: The Ships from the Turkish Flotilla Return to Turkey
Three ships, including the Mavi Marmara on whose deck the violent confrontation with the IDF occurred, left the port of Ashdod for Turkey. The three (the Mavi Marmara, the Defne-Y and the Gazze) are currently anchored in the Turkish port of Iskenderun. With the return of the ships the Israeli government sent a message to Turkey, stating that it expected the ships would not try to sail to the Gaza Strip again (Antalya News Agency and Reuters, August 7 2010).
Hussain Orush, a senior member of IHH, said that if the closure of the Gaza Strip were not lifted, many more flotillas to the Gaza Strip could be expected. He added that if need be, the vessels which returned would be used again because they had been purchased by IHH for the Palestinians. He claimed that Israel had repaired and painted the ship to destroy the evidence of what he called “thousands of bullets which hit the ships all over” (Reuters, August 7, 2010).
More Flotillas and Convoys Planned
International initiatives continue to organize flotillas and aid convoys to the Gaza Strip. The updated information is the following:
According to reports, the Lebanese women’s ship Mar Iam, currently anchored in the port of Tripoli, was supposed to set sail from Lebanon for Cyprus this past Sunday, August 8. The ship is still in port and it is not clear when it will leave. Among the all-women passengers are lawyers, doctors, correspondents, a group of nuns from the United States, a Lebanese singer and one woman in the advanced stages of pregnancy (Guardian, August 6; PressTV, August 7, 2010).
Samar al-Hajj, coordinator for the committee preparing the ship, said that the women were determined to reach the Gaza Strip but that it was uncertain whether that would actually happen. She also expressed their willingness to sacrifice themselves: “We are not more precious than those who fell as shaheeds and our blood is not more precious, and if it happens we will be the gravel [on which is paved] the path of the next ships.” She said the women on board were from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Qatar, France, the United States, Canada, Britain, Turkey, Serbia, Australia, Japan and perhaps other countries (Al-Alam TV, Iran, August 5, 2010).
* On August 9 the European aid convoy Miles of Smiles 2 entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing after its ships had anchored and unloaded in the port of El Arish. The convoy included 43 Arab and European activists who brought 46 ambulances and 102 vehicles bearing humanitarian assistance (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, August 9, 2010). Reportedly, before the convoy entered the Gaza Strip, a 60-man British delegation met with senior Hamas figures to coordinate its entrance (Al-Risala, August 6, 2010).
* Ahmed Yussef, deputy foreign minister of the de facto Hamas administration, thanked the members of the convoy and expressed hope that other delegations would come to the Gaza Strip to ease the “blockade.” Ahmed al-Kader, minister of labor in the Hamas administration, called for the closure to be lifted (Al-Aqsa TV, August 9, 2010).
* The Freedom Fleet 2 flotilla: Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator for the international campaign to lift the so-called “siege” of the Gaza Strip, said he hoped the flotilla would set sail in October 2010 (Voice of Palestine Radio, August 5, 2010). Vangelis Pissiass, chairman of the Greek campaign participating in the Freedom Fleet coalition, said that those responsible for the flotilla would resist any attempt made by the IDF to take control of the ships. He said that this time taking over ships of Freedom Fleet 2 “will not be easy.” However, he said that they would “use what international law permits” and that they would “update the European Union about the equipment they will use to defend themselves” (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, August 5, 2010).
* Germany: Amjad al-Shawa said that the German ship which was supposed to set sail for the Gaza Strip with 12 German Jewish activists and symbolic aid had been delayed. He said it would set sail in the coming weeks.
* Sweden: Dror Feiler said that the organizers of the Freedom Fleet intended to send another aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip in 2010 (Agence France-Presse, August 4, 2010).
* Viva Palestina: George Galloway, the pro-Hamas former British MP who heads Viva Palestina, announced on his website that he supported a new flotilla “which will be even strong that the great May achievement” [apparently a reference to Freedom Fleet 2]. He also announced that an aid convoy would leave for the Gaza Strip and arrive on September 18, and would be called “A global lifeline to Gaza – Viva Palestina 5” (Viva Palestina website, August 6, 2010).
The Arab countries
* The Inter-Arab Parliament decided to send three aid convoys to the Gaza Strip: one at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (which begins on August 11 this year); the second, called the School Convoy, which would leave toward the beginning of the school year in October to fill the needs of Gazan teachers and students; and the third, the Winter Convoy, which would leave at the end of December 2010 or the beginning of January 2011 (Misr Al-Jadida, August 9, 2010).
* Syria: A Syrian aid convoy of five trucks carrying 116 tons of foodstuffs is apparently making its way to the Gaza Strip (Hamas’ Paltoday website, August 5, 2010),
* Algeria: On August 8, Amar Talebi, deputy chairman of the association of Muslim sages, claimed that an aid ship was supposed to set sail from Algeria with 85 containers aboard with foodstuffs, an ambulance and medical equipment. The ship, he said, would anchor in the port of El Arish and from there the equipment would be transported to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing (Al-Khabar, August 2, 2010).
* Libya: The secretary general of Libyan public charities claimed that the Libyan humanitarian assistance convoy Al-Quds 5 would leave for the Gaza Strip at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (Misr Al-Jadida, August 4, 2010). The Libyan convoy Al-Quds 4 reached Egypt at the end of last week, and the aid it brought has apparently been transported to the Gaza Strip by the Egyptians (Agence France-Presse, August 5, 2010).
A Malaysian delegation arrived in Cairo on its way to the Gaza Strip bringing medical aid and clothing (Al-Risala, August 5, 2010)