Turkey warns Israel not to interfere with a new aid ship to the Gaza strip.
An Istanbul based Islamic charity is planning on sending a new convoy of ships to the Gaza strip in the last week of June. Many see it as another provocation of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza recalling the 9 Turks killed in May of 2010 when an aid ship attempted to deliver supplies to the Gaza strip.
The convoy will include 1,500 activists from more than 100 countries organized by 22 civic groups which will carry supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip.
Here is what Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had to say about the latest developments:
“It should be known that Turkey will give the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview on NTV television.
“Those who believe Turkey should take certain steps to stop (the new flotilla) must first warn Israel not to repeat the human tragedy it caused last year,” he said.
Israeli forces killed 8 Turkish citizens and 1 Turkish American in May of 2010 when the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara broke Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip and the ship was boarded by the Israel navy where a firefight erupted.
Other ships were boarded by the Israelis and no violent resistance was encountered. Israel insists its Navy was attacked by hardcore activists on the Mavi Marmara.
Cement was found on board the Marmara which is prohibited from entering Gaza ports by Israel. They insist it can be used to build walls used to attack Israeli forces.
Most of the supplies onboard the ships consisted of $20 million of humanitarian aid including food, wheelchairs, books, toys, electricity generators, operating theater equipment medicines, medical equipment, textiles, footwear, cash money, mobility scooters, and sofas.
No weapons were found on board the flotilla although ballistic vests, gas masks, night-vision goggles, clubs, and slingshots were found on board.
Israel claimed the flotilla carried 75 Al Qaeda mercenaries, a claim which was later found to be false and later retracted by Israel.
Al Jazeera reported that some of the Mavi Marmara activists on board wished to die as martyrs and some footage was broadcast of passengers on board participating in a chant calling for battle against Jews.
Davutoglu said in response to a question about whether the Turkish government supported the new aid convoy to Gaza:
“We have never encouraged any convoy. We have shared our views about the safety of our citizens with all related parties. That was the case last year and it is not any different this time.”
The minister insisted that Israel’s “unlawful” blockade of Gaza was at the heart of the tensions between Israel and Turkey.
The minister then told NTV that those in the United States and the international community to support a new reconcilation deal with radical Palestinian group Hamas and the secular Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas:
“If the division of the Palestinian authorities is healed, the conditions that serve as Israel’s justification for the blockade will be eradicated… and there will be no need for an aid convoy…”
Many see this as the government of Turkey coming out in support of Hamas, which many consider to be a terrorist organization.
President Obama’s calling for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders is seen by those in Israel as a call to negotiate with Hamas.
Turkey has since called for compensation by Israel for the Turks killed during last year’s incident and has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.