Jerusalem yawns as Oslo ship sets sail to Gaza Strip

Radical Scandinavian pro-Palestinian activists set said for Gaza; Foreign Ministry spokesman: "One ship does not a flotilla make."

Palestinian flag on flotilla (photo credit: Freedom Waves/Facebook)
Palestinian flag on flotilla
(photo credit: Freedom Waves/Facebook)
Israel downplayed a Tuesday announcement by radical Scandinavian pro-Palestinian activists that they were setting sail for Gaza in yet another effort to break Israel’s blockade.
“One ship does not a flotilla make,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. The ministry was following the development, Palmor said, but he gave no indication the ministry was particularly worried at this time that the ship would pick up a great deal of momentum.
“We have the same goal as the previous flotillas, to put an end to the blockade of Gaza by challenging the Israeli navy,” said Torstein Dahle, leader of the Norwegian section of the “Ship to Gaza” group.
“This time around, it will be an easy task for the Israelis to stop us because we will be so few and strictly nonviolent,” Dahle said at Oslo’s harbor.
The SV Estelle, a 53- meter vessel backed mainly by Swedish and Norwegian groups, was scheduled to set sail from Oslo on Tuesday, and organizers said they hoped several other ships would join it during its journey before it reaches the waters off Gaza in October.
In May 2010, naval commandos halted several aid ships trying to run Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. On one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara backed by Turkish organization IHH, the commandos were attacked by some of the ship’s passengers.
Nine Turks were killed in the ensuing clash. The IHH was banned in Israel in 2008.
A second convoy, planned a year later, did not sail after a number of countries, including Greece and Cyprus, refused to let it set sail from their ports.
A diplomatic official said any attempts to sail for Gaza this year would likely be met with a similar lack of cooperation.
The position of Cyprus, for instance, is that it does not want to be a base of operation for the types of organizations putting together these flotillas, since they do not know who the organizations are, or who is backing them.
Reuters contributed to this report.