Lebanon Flotilla 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The IDF is gearing up for the possible arrival next week of two flotillas of Gaza aid ships – from Iran and Lebanon. IDF sources said that the navy would intercept the ships and would operate under the assumption that hostile elements could be aboard.
Two Iranian ships could arrive sometime next week. Two more ships, one reportedly filled with women, may set sail from Lebanon and try to break the siege. The proximity of Lebanon to Gaza requires the Navy to be on a high level of alert around the clock, the IDF sources said.
Still, on Thursday some Arab media reports claimed that both Iran and Lebanon had decided not to allow the ships to sail to Gaza.
According to a report in in the Lebanese newspaper
, the government in Beirut was working
behind the scenes to cancel the flotilla, in order to calm down recent
tensions in the area. According to the paper, the government fears that
a clash at sea between the Israel Navy and the flotilla could lead to
renewed conflict between Israel and Hizbullah.
Sources cited in the newspaper claimed that Iran may also cancel its
flotilla. And the Secretary-General of the International Committee for
the Support of the Palestinian intifada, Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, said
Thursday night that the Iranian aid ship would not be sent next week,
Ynet news quoted the Iranian News Agency (IRNA) as reporting. But
Iranian MP Mahmoud Ahmadi said another ship would leave next Tuesday or
Wednesday. Fifty to 60 Iranians, food and medicine would set sail from
the Caspian Sea via Turkey to Gaza.
Islam blamed the cancellation of the Iranian ships on an Israeli threat.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.