Muslim organizations operating in South Africa are preparing a cross-continent aid convoy to Hamas-run Gaza to coincide with the second IHH “Gaza Freedom 2” flotilla, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center says.
Preparations for the convoy began earlier this year under the auspices of the Al Quds Foundation and Muslim Judicial Council. Both organizations have a long history of anti-Israeli activity and rhetoric.
The Al Quds foundation is a branch of the Al Quds International Institute, which promotes the "Arab identity of Jerusalem," while the Muslim Judicial Council is a member of the Union of Good, which unites dozens of Islamic organizations, funds and foundations to transfer monies to Hamas. The Union of Good originated as a terrorism-supporting organization and has been outlawed by Israel and the United States.
The AQF and MJC have been joined in the convoy effort by Muslim organizations, radio stations, charity foundations and Muslim schools, colleges and universities in South Africa.
The plan calls for the convoy to set out from Cape Town in late June 2011 and pass through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt. The aid materials are ultimately destined for an Egyptian port, probably El-Arish, where they will be loaded onto boats headed for Gaza.
Map Source: Promotional Booklet for Convoy
One of the most prominent organizers behind the convoy is Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, MJC president and Al-Quds Foundation director. Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' de facto administration in Gaza, gave Henricks his blessing in dispatching the convoy. In January 2011 Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks met with senior IHH figures in Istanbul, who pledged their support to the convoy.
Analysts at the Meir Amit Center say the motive for the convoy is anything but aid for Gaza's residents. Instead, they say, the organizer's aim is to defame Israel, contribute to the campaign to isolate it, promote the "Palestinian cause" in Africa, and demonstrate support for Hamas.
Of particular note are the convoy's point of origin, its timing, and its route taking it through Sudan.
Origin: A common rhetorical trick of anti-Israel activists is to equate Israel to apartheid South Africa. By launching the convoy from South Africa's capitol of Cape Town organizers hope to brand Israel as an "apartheid state" in the media.
Timing: The convoy is supposed to leave Cape Town in late June and reach the Gaza Strip in time for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (August). If the timetable is kept the convoy will pass through Africa at the same time the "Freedom Fleet 2" flotilla leaves Europe, thereby boosting media coverage.
Sudan: The convoy is supposed to pass through Sudan on its way to Egypt and, ultimately, Gaza. Analysts at the Meir Amit Center say it's possible Sudanese terrorists may try to join the convoy, or that Hamas may seek to exploit it to smuggle weapons and/or operatives into the Gaza Strip, exploiting the network of Hamas' supporters in Sudan.
A recent airstrike in Sudan commonly attributed to Israel killed a Hamas leader involved in smuggling arms to Gaza.