Flotilla challenging Gaza blockade due to leave Turkey as Israel braces for confrontation

Alarmed by a potential repeat of the Marmara incident, Israel has urged allies to deter Turkey from allowing the flotilla to set sail.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

A provocative flotilla of ships destined for Gaza received permission from Turkish authorities to depart from Istanbul on Friday under the leadership of an Islamist aid organization with ties to Hamas.

The three-ship convoy, dubbed the “Marmara 2,” represents a concerted effort to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Organizers say two of the ships are carrying aid while the third ship will carry social activists, parliamentarians, journalists and members of international boycott organizations.

Israel and Egypt have maintained restrictions on Gaza to prevent weapons smuggling since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control of the Strip.

The flotilla’s name is a reference to the Mavi Marmara incident of May 31, 2010.

A convoy of ships trying to break the blockade ignored Israeli instructions to divert to Ashdod and was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos.

On the Mavi Marmara, the flotilla’s largest ship, a melee broke out between the commandos and passengers, several of whom were armed.

Ten people, all Turkish nationals, were killed, leading to a rupture in Israeli-Turkish relations.

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The Marmara 2 organizing committee announced that all participants are taking into account the possibility that the ships “will be hijacked in the middle of the sea” and that “the activists will be arrested by IDF forces.”

The flotilla organizers say, “We are backed by an army of lawyers and network of influencers…”

Israel, alarmed by the prospect of another confrontation reminiscent of the 2010 Marmara incident, has lobbied the United States, Great Britain, and Germany to dissuade Turkey from greenlighting the flotilla’s departure.

However, Turkish authorities, after two postponements, have given their final approval, signaling their defiance against external pressure.

Efforts to dissuade the flotilla’s organizers by offering to facilitate aid delivery through established channels have been rebuffed.

Israel offered to allow the aid to be transferred from the Ashdod port to Gaza, and even offered to increase the flow of aid in exchange for abandoning the flotilla.

But the organizers remain steadfast in their commitment to challenge the blockade directly.

Turkey’s IHH Organization

The current flotilla is said to be carrying 5,000 tons of humanitarian aid aboard two ships, while nearly 1,000 passengers will travel on the third.

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Coordinating all this is The Foundation for Human Rights, Freedom and Aid, a radical Islamic Turkish institution known as the IHH.

Designated as a terror organization in Israel and the Netherlands, and outlawed in Germany, the IHH nevertheless serves as a consultant to the United Nations and human rights organizations.

Headquartered in Istanbul, the IHH has maintained ties with Hamas and Al Qaeda for years.

Documents found in its offices revealed plans to provide military aid to Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

Israel designated the IHH as a terror organization in 2008 when it became clear the IHH transferred financial aid to front organizations for Hamas in Hebron and Shechem (Nablus).

For several years now, the IHH has been operating a branch in the Gaza Strip, assisting the Hamas administration of Gaza and a number of projects.

At least 1,200 people were killed and 240 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Around 30 of the remaining 133 hostages are believed dead.