European Union parliamentarians hosted a news conference in Strasbourg Tuesday to announce the timetable for a new attempt to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza. Greek organizer Vangelis Pissias said the flotilla is expected to reach Israeli waters in the third week of June.
A number of unnamed EU lawmakers have pledged to join the operation, according to the DPA news agency. Organizers said the presence of EU lawmakers would help protect the others on board.
Some 20 Norwegian activists also plan to join the convoy, including lawmakers. The activists have rejected warnings by Israel and others that their supplies will end up in the hands of Hamas terrorists.
Activist Gerd von der Lippe told the Aftenposten in an interview last month the participation of politicians would "make the Israeli soldiers become less crazy" and "give the flotilla a large degree of legitimacy.”
The ships will reportedly carry school materials, medical equipment and possibly construction supplies, Spanish organizer Manuel Tapial told reporters in Strasbourg. All of the material already is allowed to enter Gaza by supervised land crossings.
“This will go beyond tangible humanitarian assistance,” added French organizer Claude Leostic, who claimed Israel's blockade is illegal.
One year ago, six flotilla ships attempted to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza. The activists aboard one of the ships, a Turkish-owned vessel manned primarily by terrorist-linked IHH personnel, attacked IDF naval commandos boarding to redirect the ship to Ashdod port. Nine of the attackers died in the clash aboard the Mavi Marmara and a number of other people were injured, including several IDF commandos.