Published: may 10, 2010; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
The flotilla of aid to the Gaza Strip is in its final preparations before setting sail to the Gaza Strip; reports say that the first ships are scheduled to leave the European ports and rendezvous in Cyprus with ships from Greece and Turkey before departing together to the Gaza Strip.1
Update on state of affairs
1. Following is the state of affairs we have on the final preparations for the departure of the so-called flotilla:
a. Schedule: FREE GAZA organization reported that the first ship of the flotilla, named Rachel Corrie, will depart from Ireland’s port of Dundalk on May 12 (Free Gaza website, May 10, 2010). Jamal al-Khudari, a Hamas activist and chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, stated that on May 22, eight ships will depart simultaneously from Greece and Turkey, and that the flotilla will reach Cyprus on May 26 to continue to Gaza (Safa, May 6, 2010). In another statement, he estimated that the flotilla will reach Cyprus on May 27 (Felesteen al-Youm, May 6, 2010). The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza noted that the participating ships will depart from European ports on May 15 (Qudsnet, May 5).
b. Participating ships: according to the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, the flotilla will consist of three cargo ships and five passenger ships carrying about 900 passengers from 20 countries, including European countries and Turkey. The cargo ships will carry about 5,000 tons of aid, such as construction materials, ready-made houses, medicines, medical equipment for handicapped people such as crutches, wheelchairs, and dialysis machines. The British Fire Services Association announced that it will send 200 fireproof suits and other equipment for a civilian defense service affiliated with Hamas (Safa, May 2, 2010).
c. Passenger list: no list of passengers has been published as of yet. According to previous reports, the participants in the flotilla will include human rights activists, parliament members, and journalists. The name of Josef Zisyadis, a member of the Greek Legislative Council, came up as one of the politicians to take part in the flotilla. At least some of the ships will sail under the flags of their respective countries to make them more difficult to hit. In that context, Josef Zisyadis said that under international law, if Israel interferes with the flotilla there will be grounds to file a complaint against it in European courts, since it has no right to deny passage to vessels in international water (Safa, May 5, 2010).
d. Media coverage: Hamas’ Committee Against the Siege on the Gaza Strip announced that several news networks are planning to cover the flotilla. Some of the networks mentioned are Al-Jazeera TV and Euro News (a European channel). It has also been reported that several major newspapers will cover the flotilla (Felesteen al-Youm, May 5, 2010).
e. Preparations in the Gaza Strip: the Hamas de facto administration announced that preparations to receive the flotilla are complete, which included repairing and deepening the Gaza Strip fishing port. The Hamas administration also intends to send a thank-you letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his efforts for the Gaza Strip, and to invite him on an official visit (Felesteen, May 5, 2010).
2. With the flotilla set to depart soon, John Ging, the UNRWA chief in the Gaza Strip, called on the international community to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip by transferring supplies by sea. Ging said he believes that despite the naval blockade, the Israeli navy and air force will not confront European ships, and that human rights organizations have done it before and proved that it is possible. Referring to the statement, a UN spokesman announced that the UN does not intend to use naval routes for transferring aid, adding that the UN is working with Israel to transfer aid by land (AFP, May 4, 2010).
1 Update to the May 3, 2010 Information Bulletin: “The Ship Intifada: An Update”.