Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza [file].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas-affiliated flotilla leader Zaher Birawi has admitted that the goal of flotillas sailing toward Gaza is not really humanitarian, but propaganda, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported.
The British-Palestinian activist has also predicted that the next flotilla designed to break Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza will take place in summer 2018.
He made the statements in a recent interview by Felesteen
, Hamas’s daily newspaper, translated and analyzed by the intelligence center.
Birawi is the chairman of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza, an umbrella organization established to send flotillas to Gaza.
According to the center, the flotilla leader said the flotillas’ main goal is propaganda aimed at keeping the Palestinians, Gaza and the “siege” as “live” topics in global discourse.
He stated that the objectives of the flotillas are to defame Israel, and to increase the effect of the political and media campaigns accompanying the flotillas.
In his interview, he clarified that the alleged goals put forward by the flotillas’ organizers of “breaking the siege” and bringing humanitarian aid to the Gazans were not the true goals, the Terrorism Information Center said on Tuesday.
Additionally, Birawi discussed the difficulties in dispatching flotillas to Gaza, though he minimized their significance and importance.
These difficulties included the navy’s intercepting the flotillas, Arab countries refusing to permit ships to sail for Gaza and European countries refusing to cooperate with flotillas and discouraging their citizens from participating.
Netanyahu: 'Hypocrisy' of flotilla participants only aides Hamas
It was not the first time the aims of the flotillas have been presented as a propaganda project rather than a genuine effort to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, said the center.
It said IHH activist Ismail Yilmaz, leader of Mavi Marmara for Freedom and Solidarity
, stated during a May interview with Anadolu Turkish media that “the impression was that all the people who sailed with the [Mavi Marmara] flotilla were trying to bring two cans of food to the Gaza Strip. [In reality], the goal of those who participated in the flotilla was not to sate the hunger of the Gazans but rather to present to the nations of the world the drama of Palestine, the siege imposed on it...”
Further, the center noted that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a June 26, 2010, interview with Al-Arab al-Yawm, said “the basic problem is not the aid itself, despite its importance and the Palestinians need for it – but we demand the siege be completely lifted. We refuse to divide the problem and turn it into a purely humanitarian issue.”
On the lawfare front, the center noted Birawi’s comments that lawsuits against Israel related to the flotillas have had limited success, with pressure from the “Jewish lobby” in Europe leading European governments to try to protect “Israeli war criminals.”
He asserted that in the Arab world as well there was not much support for their [anti-Israel] efforts.
However, Birawi added that there were still lawsuits against Israel
relating to the flotillas pending in France, Spain and Belgium.