A new PR stunt, featuring a ship heading for Gaza and carrying Muslim and Christian women headed by a Hizbullah backer, is aimed at embarrassing Israel into using its mighty force against what will be portrayed as defenseless women.
The Lebanese ship has been christened the “Mariam” and received the blessing of Catholic women who gathered last week at a statue of the Virgin Mary in southern Lebanon to pray for her to bless another attempt to break Israeli sovereignty over the coast of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Flotilla spokeswoman Rima Farah told the French news agency AFP, "The participants are committed to making progress and our only weapons are faith in the Virgin Mary and in humanity.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated, “If there was a mask of humanitarianism on previous flotillas, the mask has been removed completely from these boats, which are carrying representatives of Hizbullah and Iran.”
The women insist they are not affiliated with Hizbullah, but the organizer of the Miriam, Samar al-Hajj, is the wife of Lebanese general Ali Hajj, who is in a Lebanese jail for involvement with the 2005 assassination of former anti-Syrian Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. She reportedly met with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah last month.
Muslim publicists have pulled out all stops for the women’s flotilla. Al-Hajj called women the “new secret weapon” against the “thieving enemy.” She claimed that some of the women aboard will include those allegedly suffering from cancer as a result of “chemical bombs” that Israel supposedly used in the Operation Cast Lead war against Hamas terror last year.
“This has nothing to do with Hizbullah, although it is an honor for us to be supporters of the resistance,” she declared. She also thanked Israel, which has vowed to stop the ship from reaching Gaza, "for its threats which only strengthened these women's willpower to make the trip. We are not afraid."
The financial backer of the Mariam and one other ship is Syrian businessman Yasser Kashlak, who previously has stated support for Hizbullah. He told the terrorist organization’s Al-Manar television satellite network that the boats will take “Europe’s refuse [the Jews] that came to my homeland back to their homelands.”
Kashlak, like Al-Hajj,insists he has no ties with Hizbullah or Hamas, but last year, he wrote Nasrallah in a letter published in a Lebanese newspaper, "In the name of the Palestinian people… we stress that we are taking the path of resistance…. We ask Allah to extend your life and the lives of all who support Palestine and the noble 'resistance,'" the Arab code word for terror.