Navy tracking small Gaza-bound flotilla that left Turkey

ByJPOST.COM STAFF
November 2, 2011 20:05

Flotilla arranged by Irish, Canadian pro-Palestinian groups; "We don't believe they are seeking violence, but the IDF is ready," source says.




Canadian boat Tahrir [file]

Canadian boat Tahrir flotilla_311. (photo credit:Reuters)

The navy is monitoring two vessels carrying foreign pro-Palestinian activists that recently left Turkey en route to Gaza.

The two-boat flotilla, arranged by Irish and Canadian pro-Palestinian organizations, consists of one 20-meter vessel, Al-Tahrir (freedom), and a small yacht, carrying 20 to 30 people from several countries, including an Arab Israeli, and a number of journalists, a defense official said.



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The activists told Turkish authorities they are sailing towards the Greek island of Rhodes.


“We don’t believe they are seeking violence. But the IDF is ready. The navy is following developments. We won’t allow them to enter,” the source said. “We’re not aware of any IHH presence,” he added, referring to the radical Turkish group that arranged the 2010 flotilla to Gaza that ended in a deadly clash between activists and Israel Navy commandos.

The vessels will be allowed to dock in Ashdod, the source added.

Israel’s naval closure is a fully legal measure to prevent the smuggling of arms to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, and has been endorsed by the UN Palmer Report, the official said.

The vessels are expected to approach the Israeli-Gazan area on Thursday night or Friday morning, but could hit rough seas, according to weather predictions.

Activists said the boats were carrying “symbolic cargo,” consisting of $30,000 in medicines as well as activists “committed to nonviolent defense of the flotilla and Palestinian human rights.”

An Israeli official said, though, that those on the boat were “provocateurs” who were not really concerned with the Palestinians in Gaza.

“If they were they would speak out against the brutal Taliban-style regime in Gaza, which oppresses all freedom.”

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