Wed, Aug 25, 2010 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
The Lebanese Aid Ship Maryam Still Anchored in the Port of Tripoli
Flotillas and Convoys to the Gaza Strip update
Reports continued to be received from countries around the world about initiatives and preparations for organizing aid flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip.
The Lebanese women’s ship Maryam is still anchored in the port of Tripoli, despite the claims of its organizers that it would set sail on August 22. There are apparently difficulties with the Lebanese government and the refusal of Cyprus and other countries to allow the ship to sail to the Gaza Strip from their ports or territorial waters. According to reports, the ship’s organizers are in contact with Greece, Turkey and Egypt regarding the issue (NTV and Al-Safir, August 21, 2010).
Rima Farah, spokesperson for the Maryam’s organizing committee, said they would wait until August 27 for a response from Greece. She rejected the idea of sailing directly to the Egyptian port of El Arish, saying that would mean entering the Gaza Strip overland and not “breaking the siege,” and would “serve the interests of Ehud Barak” (Al-Ra’i, August 22, 2010).
Yasser Qashlaq, chairman of The Free Palestine Movement, the group organizing the flotilla, claimed that if by August 27 no port willing to accept the ships had been found, they would sail directly to the Gaza Strip. However, Rima Farah admitted that so far the Lebanese authorities had not permitted such a move (Al-Arabiya TV and the Lebanese News Agency, August 22, 2010). It was also reported that an organization called the European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza was involved in preparations for the flotilla. Amjad al-Shawa, organization coordinator, blamed Israel for delaying the flotilla’s sailing date, saying that the organization was in contact with Cyprus, and should that country continue to refuse to accept the ships, they would appeal to Greece (Voice of Palestine Radio, August 22, 2010).
In the meantime, the organizers of the Lebanese flotilla announced their intention to expand their activities. Rima Farah said the Maryam Institution was being founded. She represented it as a humanitarian organization which would operate worldwide “on land, in the air and at sea.” She added that the Maryam would not longer be used for “a specific mission or at a specific time.” Yasser Qashlaq said that he intended to found a “committee for the right of return,” by which he meant the right of “the Jew to return to his country” [i.e., outside Israel], because “our homeland is all of Palestine” (Lebanese News Agency, August 22, 2010).
The Arab countries:
* Jordan: The Jordanian Hashemite Charitable Society announced that on August 17 it had sent a humanitarian assistance convoy to the Gaza Strip which was expected to enter on August 19 (The Jordan News Agency, August 17, 2010). So far we have no information about a Jordanian convoy reaching the Gaza Strip.
* Algeria: Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator for the international campaign to lift the “Israeli siege” of the Gaza Strip, announced that an Algerian ship would set sail for the Gaza Strip and unload its cargo in the port of El Arish (Voice of Palestine Radio, August 19, 2010).
Hamas Praises IHH for its Activity for the Gaza Strip
Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration, speaking at a ceremony for outstanding students, praised the activities of IHH in the Gaza Strip, saying that it had provided $1500 scholarships for the three best students. On another occasion a soccer tournament was held in memory of the “martyrs of the Freedom Fleet.” The IHH’s Gaza representative also attended (Safa News Agency, July 24, 2010; Al-Quds, July 23, 2010).