Amid Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas attacks from Gaza, a “Freedom Flotilla” is being organized in Turkey to bring humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave with the protection of the Turkish military, according to an unconfirmed media report.
The flotilla, called “Freedom Flotilla II,” is being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the same organization that was behind the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010.
Israel Navy commandos boarded the ship, were attacked, and killed nine of the attackers.
IHH chairman Bulent Yildrim was quoted by The Middle East Monitor as telling Gulf Online last week that the activists would set sail as soon as they receive the necessary permit from the authorities in Ankara and that the Turkish military would provide protection to the ship.
Diplomatic officials said Jerusalem was following the reports carefully, but stressed that it was not clear whether the flotilla would ultimately set sail.
So far there has only been a declaration of intent, with no firm date set, one official said.
Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser on Islamic affairs in the office of the American secretary of defense, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday that the real issue in the ongoing conflict is that Turkey and Qatar are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in their goals.
“[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood long before he was prime minister,” Rhode said.
It should now be clear to all that Erdogan “is now out of the bag,” Rhode said, adding that US President Barack Obama does not speak to the Turkish leader anymore despite previously describing him as one of his closest friends among the world’s leaders.
“Erdogan is doing whatever he can to help Hamas,” he said, asserting that it will only hurt the Palestinian people in the end.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.