The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
Turkish NGO IHH will not participate in the upcoming Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza, AFP reported on Friday.
The message was relayed to AFP by Dror Feiler, an Israeli-Swedish artist who participated in last year's flotilla, who said that the cancellation was due to "technical reasons."
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A flotilla organizer told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday that the second Gaza flotilla will set sail in late June even without the IHH's support.
Speaking from Greece, Free Gaza member and International
Solidarity Movement co-founder Adam Shapiro said the “Turkish participation is
obviously something that we want to have as part of the overall flotilla but if
tomorrow they decide to postpone [their participation] then we will
Shapiro said all of the other ships taking part in the
flotilla are still finishing their preparations and are planning to set sail at
the end of the month regardless of a report in the Turkish press on Wednesday
that humanitarian relief foundation IHH is considering dropping out of the
flotilla to concentrate on the Syrian refugee issue in southern
Shapiro said that as opposed to reports that as many as 25 ships
would take part in the flotilla, there are only 10 that are scheduled to sail
later this month, with around 300 activists from dozens of countries taking
Meanwhile, Wednesday, the Israel Navy held a large-scale exercise
to prepare its forces for the operation to stop the flotilla.
exercise involved naval commandos from Flotilla 13 - better known as the
Shayetet - as well as other naval units and special forces from throughout the
defense establishment, who were being included in the operation as part of the
lessons learned from the botched raid on the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship
The Israeli 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.
In recent months,
the Navy has reviewed the operation to stop last year’s flotilla and has drawn a
number of operational conclusions that it hopes will improve the upcoming
operation to stop the new flotilla and prevent or at least minimize the loss of
The Navy has been preparing rigorously for the operation,
enlisting all of its Flotilla 13 commandos from the reserves and running
different training models with various scenarios, from passive resistance – such
as sit-downs – to potential gunfights and booby-trapped ships.
It is also
preparing for the possibilities that commandos will encounter passive resistance
or mercenaries armed with knives, saws, bats, as well guns.
the final departure date for the flotilla is not known but they are planning to
meet in international waters in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the
month and head towards Gaza.