Israel gearing up for ‘mother of all flotillas’

NGOs planning to sail up to 20 ships to Gaza in coming months; IDF closely tracking planned flotilla, preparing for wide-range of scenarios.

By
September 7, 2010 05:35
1 minute read.
IDF soldiers

shayetet 13. (photo credit: IDF)

 
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Israel is preparing for what is being described in the IDF as the “mother of all flotillas,” which could include up to 20 different ships planning to set sail for the Gaza Strip in the coming months.

The flotilla is being organized by a coalition of NGOs from Europe and the United States, including a group calling itself European Jews for a Just Peace.

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“We hope to have a broad coalition from European countries, and also maybe the United States,” Dror Feiler, an Israeli-Swedish musician and artist who lives in Stockholm – and one of the organizers behind the flotilla – told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “We would like it to be double the size of the last flotilla, with at least a dozen ships and more than thousand people.”

The IDF is closely tracking the planned flotilla and is preparing for a wide-range of scenarios, including the possibility that due the large number of ships, it will need to stop the flotilla far from Israel’s shores. Feiler said the large number of ships was due to the unprecedented number of people who wanted to sail to Gaza.

“The Israeli army can stop 12 or 50 ships if it wants,” he said. “There are so many ships since so many people want to get together to stop the siege, which is a collective punishment of the people of Gaza and is unacceptable.”

The last flotilla to Gaza was stopped by the navy at the end of May. During the operation, nine Turkish passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara passenger ship were killed in clashes with commandos from the navy’s Flotilla 13.

The coalition behind the new blockade-busting effort includes the Turkish IHH and the Free Gaza Movement, both of which were involved in the May flotilla. It is demanding “an immediate and complete lifting of the closure, including a lifting of the travel ban as well as the ban on exports from Gaza.”

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