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Mini-Flotilla Headed for Gaza

Two ships loaded with anti-Israel activists are on a course for Gaza in hopes of breaking Israel's blockade of the Hamas-run enclave.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/2/2011, 8:38 PM

Previous Flotilla Boat
Previous Flotilla Boat
IDF

IDF naval forces are tracking a pair of Gaza-bound ships in the Mediterranean that departed from Turkey this week

Organizers of the "micro-flotilla" in New York announced Wednesday two ships carrying 27 activists from five countries, including the US, are headed to Gaza.

They said they did not publicize the flotilla in advance to prevent US and Israeli officials from exerting pressure on countries where their ships docked.

The flotilla, represented by The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) - which represents terrorists held by the US in Guantanamo Bay - called for an end to the blockade on Gaza, which it says causes the "isolation of Palestinians in the Strip."

They also asserted the blockade had created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and criticized US officials for supporting Israel over the Hamas terror organization that runs the enclave.

However, Israeli officials say claims the IDF blockade of Gaza hampers the delivery of humanitarian aid are patently false. They note the Kerem Shalom crossing is never at full capacity despite all aid requests from Gaza being met.

During the Ramadan holiday earlier this year, Gaza's residents sought to export aid.

If the flotillas were genuinely intended to deliver aid - rather than create a public relations debacle on Hamas' behalf - the aid would be unloaded at Ashdod and transferred through the crossing,  officials say.

The United Nations' Palmer Report concluded earlier this year that Israel's blockade of Gaza is "legal and appropriate" as a means of stopping the flow of arms to Hamas.

The coming flotilla will put Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's word to the test as they approach Gaza by week's end.

Previously, Erdogan vowed to send Turkish warships to escort Gaza-bound aid ships seeking to violate Israel's blockade - leading to concerns there would be a Cuban Missile Crisis style standoff between Ankara and Jerusalem.

Israeli officials say they will enforce the blockade despite Erdogan's bombastic declarations and threats - and expect that reason will ultimately prevail.

The flotila planned for earlier this year ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, when only one of 17 planned ships succeeded in approaching Israel's coast. It was diverted to the port of Ashdod by Israeli naval commandos.