Wed, July 07, 2010 | Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
New Update – The Flotilla to the Gaza Strip
Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of Hamas’ Gaza Strip “Popular Committee to Break the Siege,” said that he expected the two ships from Lebanon to reach the Gaza Strip in the coming days. He said international solidarity was growing daily and that what he called the “Zionist threats do not frighten the organizers of the flotilla” (Al-Ayam, July 4, 2010).
In effect, in the meantime the ships have been delayed. According to “Lebanese sources” international pressure is being exerted on the Lebanese government and the organizers of the flotilla to prevent the ships from setting sail. For example, representatives from various embassies asked the Lebanese government to report the names of their nationals who planned to participate in the voyage (Al-Akhbar, June 29 2010). There are also problems concerning the next port of call, since Cyprus has refused to accept them (Al-Resalah.net, July 1, 2010).
The state of the ships, as of June 29, was the following (Al-Akhbar, June 29, 2010):
* The Nagi al-Ali was anchored in the port of Tripoli under heavy guard. Lebanese sources reported that if the ship remained in port it would be forced to leave the wharf because the port was crowded. According to the organizers of the flotilla, in the coming days the administrative and legal procedures will be completed and a date will be set for the voyage. They added that they intended to lower their media profile to lessen the pressure exerted on the Lebanese government.
* The Maryam (originally the Jawdat), according to the organizers, is still plagued by technical and administrative problems which prevent it from reaching the port of Tripoli. Other sources claim that the original ship will apparently be replaced by one expected to reach Lebanon in the coming days. According to Al-Nahar one of the reasons for the delay is the ambition to find a crew of women to sail the ship, all of whose passengers will be women (Al-Nahar, June 30 2010). Rim Haydar, one of the organizers, said that all the participants had made preparations for the voyage, such as taking first aid courses. She said the changes were the result of the large number of people who want to participate in the flotilla. She also said she wanted to take one of Hassan Nasrallah’s robes with her as a symbolic present (Al-Resalah.net, July 1, 2010).
Dr. Omar Tulabi, deputy head of the Algerian society of Muslim sages, said that a flotilla sponsored by the society would set sail from Algeria on July 5 with a cargo of 2,500 tons of humanitarian equipment. It is expected to sail through the Suez Canal and dock in El-Arish. He said the society had already received authorization from Egypt (Al-Shuruq, June 23, 2010). Note: There were 32 Algerians on board the Mavi Marmara, the second largest delegation (after the Turks).
Delegations from foreign countries continue arriving in the Gaza Strip following the incidents of the previous flotilla. An Egyptian delegation arrived which included members of the Parliament, including from the opposition Al-Wafd party (Arabic News website, July 4, 2010). A delegation from Malaysia is also currently in the Gaza Strip (Iranian news website, July 5, 2010). The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain (invited by Israel) are also expected to arrive (Jerusalem Post, July 5, 2010)