'Flotilla II' by End of 2014, Say Activists
A coalition of activists said on Tuesday they would send a flotilla of ships to break “Israel's siege of Gaza” by the end of 2014, AFP reported.
"We plan to send the flotilla during 2014," the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which includes activists from at least 10 countries, said in Istanbul.
The statement was made at a joint conference hosted by the Turkish group IHH, which sponsored the first flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza that was raided by Israeli commandos in 2010.
The group did not give a specific date or an estimate on how many vessels or people would participate.
The IHH, which many believe has close ties with the Turkish government, is one of the members of the coalition, which includes groups from Greece, Norway and Sweden.
"It is a reflection of the growing worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people, from the U.S. to Malaysia, from Scandinavia to South Africa," the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said.
The boats would sail at the same time from different ports around the world, carrying humanitarian aid as well as Palestinian commercial products, it added.
"We will try to form this flotilla with the aim of showing that international community cannot sit and look away when attacks on civilians and crimes against humanity are committed," Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef said, according to AFP.
He added that the coalition would not seek support from any government and there would not be any military escort.
In the 2010 flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel - only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the IHH members on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid - in fact, no aid supplies at all - whatsoever.
The 2014 flotilla will again include Mavi Marmara, but the initiative is "by no means encouraged by the Turkish government," the IHH deputy head Durmus Aydin told AFP.