Turkey Supporting New "Freedom Flotilla" to Gaza

Turkey Supporting New "Freedom Flotilla" to Gaza

As Israel conducts its Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas’ rocket and terror attacks from Gaza, another “Freedom Flotilla” is being organized in Turkey purportedly to bring humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave–with the protection of the Turkish military, according to a Jerusalem Post report.

The flotilla, called “Freedom Flotilla II,” is being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the same organization that was behind the ill-fated Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010.

Israel Navy commandos boarded that ship, were attacked immediately, and killed nine of the attackers.

IHH chairman Bulent Yildrim was quoted by The Middle East Monitor as telling Gulf Online last week that the activists would set sail as soon as they receive the necessary permit from the authorities in Ankara and that the Turkish military would provide protection to the ship.

Diplomatic officials said Jerusalem was following the reports carefully, but stressed that it was not clear whether the flotilla would ultimately set sail.

No firm date for the flotilla has yet been set, one official said.

Israel maintains a naval blockade to prevent arms from being shipped to Gaza, but allows non-military goods shipped through Israel to be transferred through a border crossing with Gaza. Israel has continued to ship goods to Gaza even in the midst of hostilities with Hamas.

Once on good terms with Israel, Turkey has become belligerently anti-Israel since being headed by an Islamist government. Turkey has been highly supportive of Hamas in its battles with Israel, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of conduct in Gaza “that surpassed what Hitler did.”