Thu, Aug 05, 2010 | Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
More Flotillas and Convoys Planned – Update
The organizers of the ships in Lebanon continue claiming that they will not be frightened off by “Israeli threats” and that the flotilla is expected to set sail in the near future:
* Thaer Ghandour, a member of the supervisory committee of the MV Nagi al-Ali and a contributor to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, said that “the organizers overcame a number of difficulties” but “a final sailing date has not yet been set.” He said that “Israeli threats against the ships have been increasing over the past ten days” (Al-Aqsa TV, July 27, 2010).
* Rima Farah, spokeswoman for the MV Maryam, said that the ship was almost ready to set sail and was waiting for permission from the Lebanese authorities. She said that the necessary documents were to have been presented on July 28, and claimed that “[the Lebanese authorities] are afraid of the Israeli threats.” She added that that “this is not a tourist trip but a voyage of challenge which plans to break the siege of the Gaza Strip.” She added that they would “oppose any attempt to take the ship to the ports of Ashdod or El Arish” (Al-Aqsa TV, July 27, 2010).
Reports continue to be received of intentions to dispatch other aid flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip:
* The United States – According to reports, one of the participants in organizing the ship, the so-called “Audacity of Hope,” which is expected to join the Freedom Fleet 2 flotilla, is Professor Rashid al-Khalidi, former PLO spokesman and currently a professor at Colombia University, described by the media as “a personal friend of American President Barack Obama” (Globes, July 25, 2010).
–George Galloway, pro-Hamas former member of the British Parliament, stated that on September 18, “the anniversary of [the events in the Lebanese refugee camps] Sabra and Shatilla,” overland convoys would arrive to “break the siege” from Europe, Doha (Qatar) and Morocco, and that a ship would set sail from the Syrian port of Latakia (Al-Liwa, July 27, 2010).
–Dr. Issam Yussef, the general coordinator of the Miles of Smiles 2 convoy, said that it would reach Alexandria on August 2, El-Arish on August 5 and enter the Gaza Strip overland on August 7. He said the matter had been coordinated with the Egyptian authorities, and that the convoy would be led by 50 ambulances and bring medicine and medical equipment (Al-Resalah.net, July 26, 2010).
* Jordan – Fathi Abu Nassar, spokesman for the Jordanian Lifeline convoy, claimed that in the name of the participants of the Jordan Freedom Flotilla and with the support of the Jordanian government, he proposed bringing Israel to trial in the International Criminal Court as part of an international move by flotilla participants (Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustour, July 31, 2010).
* Iran – Mahmoud Ahmedi Bighash, member of the Iranian Parliament, claimed that Egypt had agreed to issue entrance vises for him and three other parliament members planning to visit the Gaza Strip. According to other information, Egypt refused to issue such visas (Safa News Agency, July 28, 2010).
* Libya – According to an assistant to the secretary general of the union of public charitable societies in Libya, two more aid ships are expected to arrive from Libya. They are the MV Al-Quds 4, which is already on its way and expected to cross the Libyan-Egyptian border on August 8, and the MV Al-Quds 5, which will set sail during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (which begins on August 11 this year) (Al-Muslim, August 2, 2010).
Al-Qaeda’s Position on the Flotillas
In a new audio tape, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, belittled the importance of the aid ships to the Gaza Strip, claiming that they would not change the situation because they were “like sheep in a sea of wolves.” He said change would be brought about only by an Egyptian decision to lift the “siege” of the Gaza Strip and allow free access to it, and if the Turks demanded that their government stopped cooperating with Israel and sending troops to Afghanistan. He also appealed to the Turkish people to renew the role of the Ottoman Empire as the defender of the Muslim countries and Palestine (Al-Fallujah forum, July 28 2010).
Egyptian Newspaper Reports Abundance of Merchandise in the Gaza Strip
A correspondent for the Egyptian Al-Ahram recently reported on an abundance of merchandise in the Gaza Strip. He said the “siege” had been broken “even before the Freedom Flotilla,” thanks to the entrance of goods from Egypt. He noted that the market in Rafah was “loaded with large quantities of merchandise of all kinds, at prices…cheaper than those in Egypt,” and that “the rest homes and markets have become a symbol of the comfort in the Gaza Strip and prove that the siege is political and not economic.”
He also said that “anyone walking through the streets comes across hundreds, if not thousands of cars which entered the Gaza Strip through the tunnels from Egypt, some of them stolen.”
“There are signs of luxury, enjoyed mostly by those close to Hamas, people who have become rich through the siege [tunnel owners] or employees of the international organizations in the Gaza Strip, especially UNRWA. He also reported that the new vacation houses are mostly owned by Gazans close to Hamas and also serve to launder money (MEMRI website, August 1, 2010).
The Islamization of the Gaza Strip Continues
Hamas’ gradual Islamization of the Gaza Strip continues. Passing legislation, instituting regulations and determining codes of behavior in the spirit of Islam are important methods for motivating the process. The Hamas police have announced the imposition of new restrictions on stores selling women’s clothing, prohibiting them from putting mannequins in the windows or hanging advertisements for revealing clothing. In addition, the ministry of endowments of the de facto Hamas administration announced it intended to conduct a series of informative activities before the Ramadan fast, including a prize-bearing religious competition to be held through the ministry’s website, religious meetings and lectures in the mosques (Safa News Agency and Filastin al-‘Aan, July 28, 2010).
Article in Hamas Newspaper Calls on Muslim Brotherhood to Change Egyptian Regime
Mustafa al-Sawaf, formerly the editor-in-chief of the Hamas daily Felesteen, wrote an article for the paper calling on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to cooperate with the opposition to change the existing regime, both now in the era of Mubarak and afterwards. He said the Muslim Brotherhood needed “a transition period” to join the changes led by the opposition, which would be time of preparation and maturing for “the Islamic project in the region.” Only after such an interim period should the Muslim Brotherhood actively take over the government (Hamas’ daily Felesteen, July 28, 2010).
Hamas Security Services Call for a Draft
As Hamas strengthens and entrenches its control over the Gaza Strip and continues its military buildup, the de facto administration is drafting Gazans into its security services. Fathi Hamad, interior minister, said that his ministry would “institute recruitment [to the security services], first voluntary and then as a draft” (Website of the interior ministry of the de facto Hamas administration, July 27, 2010). Ihab al-Ghussein, ministry spokesman, said that the ministry had appointed a government committee which would prepare a survey about the draft. Note: Until recently Hamas’ security services had been based primarily on Hamas’ volunteer operatives. One meaning of the draft is that it opens the services to operatives from other organizations.
The Arab League’s Monitoring Committee Allows the Palestinian Authority to Hold Direct Negotiations with Israel, Subject to Mahmoud Abbas’ Decision
At its last conference in Cairo on July 29, the Arab League’s monitoring committee decided to allow the Palestinian Authority to begin direct negotiations with Israel, giving Mahmoud Abbas the right to decide the date and circumstances appropriate for launching the talks. It also sent a note to the United States demanding additional clarifications and guarantees regarding construction in the settlements and defining the source of authority for the negotiations (Al-Jazeera TV, July 30; Haaretz, July 29, 2010).