Thursday, June 17, 2010
Plotting a course towards trouble
by Larry Geller
Flotilla news from a variety of sources:
Lebanon ship could reach Gaza within hours
Israel is particularly concerned by the ship slated to leave from Lebanon due to the short sailing duration. Members of the Breaking the Siege movement can reach the Gaza coast within hours, forcing the Navy to be on a heightened state of alert.
There is no connection between my boats and Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran," promises Palestinian businessman Yasser Kashlak, who has presented two ships slated to sail from Lebanon to Gaza. According to him, more than 50 vessels will take part in "Freedom Flotilla 2".
The first boat, Naji el-Ali, is set to leave Beirut with 25 European activists onboard, including parliament members and some 50 journalists, including humanitarian equipment. The second ship, Mariam, whose passengers will be mostly women, was presented on Sunday.
The "flotilla offensive" is expected to climax at the end of the month of Ramadan, which takes place on October 12, when organizations like Free Gaza and Viva Palestine seek to organize a flotilla of 10 to 15 vessels. [ynet news, Number of vessels sailing to Gaza unclear, 6/15/2010]
An association of German Jews planning to send a boat with humanitarian aid to break the Gaza blockade is searching for a second vessel, given the high number of requests to travel with the group. [Haartz, German Jews 'inundated' with requests to join new Gaza aid flotilla, 6/14/2010]
The head of Iran's Palestinian aid society says it is sending several aid convoys to Gaza in the coming days.
Iran says it is sending more aid convoys to Gaza, along with an official parliamentary delegation. It is not immediately clear if Tehran intends to go through with its pledge.
An Iranian Red Crescent official vowed last week to send two ships, carrying humanitarian aid as well as an operating theater, to Gaza. Unconfirmed reports say one of the aid ships left Sunday for Gaza.
The head of Iran's Palestine Aid Society, Mohammed Ali Nourani, is promising more aid for Gaza.
He says next week there will be an aid convoy from Tehran to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and then set sail to Gaza. He adds that immediately after that, there will be another Iranian aid convoy that will head overland to Istanbul and head by sea to Gaza. [Voice of America, Iranian Officials say More Aid and Parliamentary Group Heading to Gaza, 6/15/2010]
A Turkish pro-Palestinian group said on Wednesday it will send another aid flotilla to Gaza next month, again trying to break an Israeli blockade after its last convoy was the target of a deadly Israeli raid in May. [Reuters, Turkish flotilla organisers to send more Gaza ships, 6/16/2010]
Israel has warned both Lebanese and Iranian organizers against sending aid ships to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said attempts by Lebanese and Iranian activists to break the blockade of Gaza "would be seen not just as a provocation and a breach of law, but as a hostile act because the ships and their cargo are from enemy states." [naharnet.com, Israel Warns Lebanese, Iranian Activists against Sending Ships to Gaza, 6/17/2010]
(Thanks to South Lebanon for pointer to this last article)