Saturday 29 November 2014

Israel-Gaza conflict: Turkish campaign group to challenge Gaza blockade by sending flotilla full of aid for Palestinians

Four years after another flotilla launched by same group met with deadly raid by Israeli commandos

Adam Withnall

Published 11/08/2014 | 17:14

This 2010 image shows an Israeli army military vessel (L) escorting one of the boats in the last ill-fated Gaza-bound aid flotilla

A pro-Palestinian campaign group in Turkey is to send aid on ships bound for Gaza, four years after its last attempt to break the Israeli blockade ended in a bloody raid and the deaths of 10 activists.

In a statement issued after a meeting in Istanbul at the weekend, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation group said it had formed a multi-national coalition designed to "challenge the Israeli blockade".

The fighting in Gaza has abated in the last 24 hours as both sides agreed to a new three-day ceasefire deal. The conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant groups has now lasted more than a month and led to the deaths of almost 2,000 people.

A spokesperson for IHH said pro-Palestinian activists from 12 different countries had come together to form the "Freedom Flotilla Coalition", which will launch a convoy "in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza".

A Palestinian family looks through their damaged home after returning to Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and began a 72-hour truce with Hamas mediated by Egypt as a first step towards negotiations on a more enduring end to the month-old war. Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,834 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket launches. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
A Palestinian family looks through their damaged home after returning to Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
A Palestinian family rides a donkey cart past damaged homes after returning to Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
Palestinians sit next to their destroyed house after returning to the Shejaia neighbourhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
A general view of destroyed buildings in Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
The ruins of destroyed houses are seen in Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Palestinians sit next to their destroyed house after returning to the Shejaia neighbourhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
A Palestinian woman reacts after retuning to her badly damaged house in Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Palestinians search for their belongings amongst the ruins of their destroyed house after returning to it in the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinians look at destroyed houses after returning to the Shejaia neighbourhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinians sit next to their destroyed house after returning to the Shejaia neighbourhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
A Palestinian woman searches for her belongings amongst the rubble of her destroyed house after returning to the Shejaia neighbourhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinians sit next to their destroyed house after returning to it in the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki (C) leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague August 5, 2014. Al-Malki said on Tuesday after meeting prosecutors at the International Criminal Court that there was "clear evidence" that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague August 5, 2014. Al-Malki said on Tuesday after meeting prosecutors at the International Criminal Court that there was "clear evidence" that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos
The ruins of destroyed houses are seen in the Shejaia neighbourhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki (C) leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague August 5, 2014. Al-Malki said on Tuesday after meeting prosecutors at the International Criminal Court that there was "clear evidence" that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos
An Israeli soldier from the Nahal Brigade carries a weapon after returning to Israel from Gaza August 5, 2014. Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and started a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas mediated by Egypt as a first step towards negotiations on a more enduring end to the month-old war. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A Palestinian woman leads a girl past destroyed buildings after returning to Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
Palestinians inspect a damaged building after it was hit by mistake by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel by Palestinian militants, in the West Bank town of Beit Sahur near Bethlehem August 5, 2014. IREUTERS/Ammar Awad
A Palestinian man gestures in front of a damaged building after it was hit by mistake by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel by Palestinian militants, in the West Bank town of Beit Sahur near Bethlehem August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
An Israeli soldier from the Nahal Brigade carries a weapon after returning to Israel from Gaza August 5, 2014. Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and started a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas mediated by Egypt as a first step towards negotiations on a more enduring end to the month-old war. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
An Israeli soldier gestures from atop a tank after crossing the border back into Israel August 5, 2014. Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and started a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas mediated by Egypt as a first step towards negotiations on a more enduring end to the month-old war. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

"The Freedom Flotilla Coalition affirmed that, as most governments are complicit, the responsibility falls on civil society to challenge the Israeli blockade on Gaza," the group said. A further news conference has been scheduled for Tuesday.

When the IHH last tried to break the Gaza blockade with a flotilla in May 2010, nine Turkish nationals died in international waters when Israeli commandos boarded their flagship vessel, the Mavi Marmara.

A 10th Turkish activist died later that month from wounds suffered in the raid, which was catastrophic for diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, once close Middle East allies.

The Gaza blockade has been in place since shortly after Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006. Israel says the measures are designed to stop arms and equipment that could be used to make rockets from reaching Hamas and other militant groups.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who on Sunday was elected president, has been among the most vocal critics of Israel's conflict with Hamas across the Gaza Strip.

(Independent.co.uk)

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