IHH organizers were considering postponing a planned flotilla, set to sail to the Gaza Strip this month, as a result of regional developments, particularly in Syria, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Tuesday.
“We are reconsidering our plans," flotilla spokesman and IHH board member Huseyin Oruc told Hurriyet. "The international community is talking about an intervention in Syria, a development that would affect Turkey very much, as well as Palestine and peace in the region. All the factors are inter-linked and we must be looking at all of them."
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“Our goal is not to set sail to Gaza. We think we can serve the purpose by sending a ship or canceling it. We’ll make our decision by the end of this week,” Oruc continued.
“We will discuss the emerging conditions. Every country has its own balance. From our point of view, the developments in neighboring Syria are critically important," he added. “We cannot close our eyes to the developments on our doorstep."
The flotilla which will attempt to breach the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, is set for June 27 and will be comprised of 22 ships, including the Mavi Marmara which was raided by IDF commandos in May last year. According to IHH plans, the flotilla will meet in international waters near southern Cyprus.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on June 6 advised organizers of the flotilla to delay its departure until the effects of the Rafah crossing opening on Gaza are seen, Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported citing a Hurriyet report.
He said that flotilla organizers should wait to see how the situation in Gaza changes with Egypt’s opening of the Rafah crossing and the expected creation of a Palestinian unity government.
“The government’s warnings should not be regarded as strange,” Oruc was quoted as saying in response.
On Wednesday, the Israel Navy was scheduled to hold a large scale exercise
as it prepares to stop the planned flotilla.
The navy is under orders from the government to enforce the Israeli sea blockade
over Gaza which officials have said is crucial for preventing the flow of arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.