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20 Ships to Head for Clash in Gaza

Twenty ships, including at least five from Turkey, plan to try to break Israel's embargo on Hamas-run Gaza in April. Israel has not yet responded.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/21/2010, 11:53 AM / Last Update: 2/21/2010, 12:11 PM

The Turkish IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation announced that a fleet of 20 ships would be sent to break Israel’s embargo on Hamas-run Gaza two months from now. Five of the ships will be under the auspices of IHH; the support of charitable businessmen in Turkey is being sought for funding to purchase them.

IHH was founded in 1992 to provide humanitarian aid to Bosnia, and later extended its reach to “deliver foodstuff, clothes and tents to crisis regions hit by wars, conflicts, and natural disaster to meet urgent needs of victims.”

However, it has now added political intervention to its agenda, vowing that its “aid ships will continue to head for Gaza until Israeli embargo is lifted.”

The cargo ships are to carry “Israeli-embargoed building materials, generators, medication, medical equipment and educational materials.” In addition, passenger ships accompanying the cargo ships are scheduled to carry “journalists, human rights advocates, activists and lawmakers from various countries.”

Other reports of planned “humanitarian” flotillas headed for Gaza have been publicized of late. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez was said to be planning to join one of them, along with anti-apartheid activists from South Africa. The ships were said to be planning to set sail for Gaza in March, in a convoy initiated by Hamas terror activist Muhammad Sualha, currently in Britain.

In late 2008, the “Free Gaza” movement sent a ship towards Gaza, with former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney aboard. Israel declared the coastal area a "closed military zone," but when the boat continued towards Gaza and tried to outmaneuver an Israel Navy patrol boat; a collision ensued, and the ship ultimately set sail for Lebanon after taking on water.