Ships from several countries are reported to have either set sail or are planning to set sail as part of a new flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade on Gaza. While the IDF continues to track Iranian ships en route to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Navy was put on high alert yesterday amid fears that a new flotilla will launch from Lebanon, possibly even with Hezbollah operatives. Due to the short distance, Israel would be left with little time to stop the Lebanese ship.
Although Israel does not have intelligence indicating that the Iranian ships are carrying weapons, its Navy is planning to act with the assumption that provocateurs are on board. “I recommend that humanitarian activists who are planning on participating in these new flotillas think very hard because they cannot know who is on these ships,” Deputy Commander of the Navy Rear-Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda told The Jerusalem Post Monday. “We believe that there will be groups that will try to cause provocations and repeat what happened on the Marmara.”
Meanwhile, yesterday, Bulent Yildirim, head of the Turkish organization IHH which was behind the last flotilla stopped by Israel, told members of the European Parliament it had assembled six more ships to be sent to Gaza in July. Dubbed the Fleet of Freedom 2, several pro-Palestinian groups are scheduled to participate including Turkish, Greek and Swedish nongovernmental organizations. In addition, a small German Jewish organization, Jewish Voice in Germany, plans to send an aid ship.
Unfortunately, these new flotilla ships are just another attempt at delegitimizing Israel’s right to self-defense. These flotillas are designed to break the blockade and reach the Hamas-run Gaza Strip; they are not designed to deliver humanitarian aid. By remaining silent, the Obama administration sends the signal that it is alright to reach out to Hamas.