Oy Vey - Trouble Ahoy!

Initiated and funded by the Turkish organization IHH, a convoy or flotilla of nine ships is heading towards Israel’s coast, in a bid to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

The first and only successful attempt to break the naval blockade on Gaza was in August 2008 by the “Free Gaza Movement” when 44 people from 17 countries sailed from Cyprus on two small boats. Since then, several reported attempts have been made, none of which succeeded.

The organizers claim that the flotilla consists of nine vessels carrying 800 passengers, including international activists and journalists, and 10,000 tonnes of aid. They are due to arrive off Israel's coast on Friday.

This will be the largest and most extravagant attempt yet, and is personally backed by Turkey’s increasingly hostile (to Israel) Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A counter-flotilla has been organized by Israeli activists, and on Saturday some 30 Israeli ships set sail "to counter the Turkish flotilla." Posters comparing Erdogan to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were displayed aboard the vessels. The Israeli authorities have not allowed the Israeli civilian ships to directly confront the Gaza-bound flotilla.

The Israeli Navy itself has been instructed to block the Turkish led flotilla from reaching Gaza, while Turkey has threatened retaliatory action if Israel’s Navy intervenes.

Israel argues that this is purely an act of political provocation, as there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, nor shortages of critical items, as there are regular deliveries of supplies via Israel and Egypt – over one million tones of supplies have been delivered through or by Israel since 2008. There are established channels for genuinely charitable and humanitarian shipments of products to be delivered to Gaza via Israel.

Regretfully, such facts and logic may be lost in the international soundbites that the Gaza flotilla is chasing.


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