Turkey Is Organizing Freedom Flotilla II To Get Additional Aid Into The Gaza Strip

Anti-Israeli flotilla Israeli naval vessels in 2010 approach a ship that illegally entered the nation's territorial waters.  Reuters

The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a Turkish NGO, is organizing “Freedom Flotilla II” to go to the Gaza Strip, loaded with humanitarian aid.  

Bulent Yildrim, the organization’s president, said Sunday the organization was trying to get the legal procedures and paperwork done to send the vessel into Gaza, according to the Middle East Monitor. No sail date has been set. He added the ship would be flanked by Turkish military to avoid the bloodshed that took place the last time Turkey tried to send a flotilla.

Haaretz reported Sunday a shipment of medicine had arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport intended for Gaza. Turkish Red Crescent was responsible for the air, which was about 20 tons of medicine and healthcare supplies sent on a Turkish Airlines cargo plane. The newspaper reported the medicine was been stocked in the airport before the transfer.

In 2010, the IHH and the Free Gaza Movement, a human rights organization, sent three flotilla ships to try to breach the blockade. The crew and passengers clashed with Israeli forces when the Israelis raided the convoy.

Israeli forces stormed the lead ship before dawn and clashed with those aboard in an attack that made global headlines. Nine Turks were killed, leading to a breakdown in Israeli-Turkish relations.

Gaza periodically has been under a land, air and sea blockade since shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. Fatah, the West Bank’s ruling party, dissolved the government and dismissed Hamas. Hamas rejected the ouster and remained in control of Gaza, effectively splitting the territories. Leaving Gaza was restricted to “exceptional humanitarian cases,” and nothing should have been going in or out of the area.

Since clashes between Israel and Gaza began 20 days ago, Turkey has been very vocal about supporting Gaza and Hamas. In a campaign speech last week Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel’s actions demonstrate "barbarism that surpasses Hitler," the Associated Press reported.

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