Turkey Authorizes Departure of Gaza-Bound Flotilla

By Yoni Weiss

Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists to take part of a humanitarian convoy, leaves from Sarayburnu port in Istanbul, Turkey in 2010. (REUTERS/Emrah Dalkaya/File Photo)

A flotilla set to challenge the Gaza blockade has gained approval from Turkish authorities to depart from Istanbul on Friday. Organized by an Islamist aid group with ties to the Hamas, the three-ship convoy, named Marmara 2, aims to defy Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

The convoy comprises two ships carrying aid and one transporting social activists, parliamentarians, journalists, and members of international boycott organizations. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, both Israel and Egypt have imposed restrictions to prevent weapons smuggling.

The flotilla’s name harks back to the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, where Israeli naval commandos clashed with passengers, resulting in ten Turkish deaths and straining Israeli-Turkish relations.

Despite concerns of potential interception by Israeli forces, the flotilla’s organizers remain resolute. Backed by legal support and a network of influencers, they anticipate possible hijacking or arrest by the IDF.

Israel, fearing a repeat of the Marmara incident, has urged the US, UK, and Germany to dissuade Turkey from allowing the flotilla to proceed. However, Turkish authorities have given final approval, indicating defiance against external pressure.

Efforts to redirect aid through established channels have been rejected by the organizers, who remain committed to challenging the blockade directly.

The flotilla, coordinated by the Foundation for Human Rights, Freedom, and Aid (IHH), carries 5,000 tons of aid and nearly 1,000 passengers. Despite being designated a terror organization by Israel and the Netherlands, and outlawed in Germany, the IHH maintains ties with Hamas and al-Qaida.

Operating a Gaza branch, the IHH assists Hamas in governing Gaza and various projects.

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