Previous Flotilla Boat
Previous Flotilla BoatIsrael news photo: IDF

An international anti-Israel group that has sponsored several flotillas to Gaza is now taking aim at Egypt, accusing the new government there of imposing a blockade on the area.

Since the deposing of President Mohammed Morsi by the Egyptian army, Egyptian soldiers have cracked down hard on the Muslim Brotherhood - arresting scores, including most of the movement's leadership, routing Islamists in Egypt's large cities and pursuing them into the Sinai Peninsula. At the same time, they have taken steps to prevent entry of Gazan Arabs – who are largely supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood – into the Sinai region.

As a result, the Turkish IHH (Humanitarian Relief Foundation) group that organized the Gaza flotillas, including the infamous 2010 flotilla in which Hamas supporters and terrorists attempt to murder IDF soldiers, has turned its focus onto Egypt. In a report on the situation in Gaza, the group - which is itself an Islamist organization - said that Egypt has embarked on a campaign of “collective punishment” against Gaza residents. With Israel preventing the approach of flotilla ships to Gaza as part of the IDF's military blockade of the Strip, Egypt has an obligation to “open the Rafiah passage for free transit of individuals and merchandise, and especially for fuel.”

Egypt has in recent weeks not only closed that passage, but also destroyed dozens of smuggling tunnels used by Gazan Arabs to bring merchandise and weapons into the Hamas-run territory. On Sunday, an Egyptian Army spokesperson said that the army had destroyed between 80% and 90% of the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai. The spokesperson said that the U.S. had supplied Egypt with special equipment to detect the tunnels, and that Egypt and Israel had cooperated on the matter to a certain extent.

“The matter was arranged in the security councils that discuss cooperation between the two sides,” the spokesperson said.

IHH spokesperson Zahir Birawi said that Egypt's actions were “worrying. Anyone who identifies with the Palestinian cause must immediately contact Egyptian government offices around the world and demand that they relieve the blockade of Gaza and halt this collective punishment.”