Israel readies to confront the Gaza Freedom Flotilla... and the eyes of the world are on them. The IDF says there is a 'stable humanitarian situation' in Gaza and that the flotilla is a 'provocation'. The flotilla is carrying 5,000 tonnes of reconstruction material. All on board the ships are pledged to non-violence - if only the Israelis were. The organisers and volunteers of this and previous anti-siege missions are doing a great service to the cause of Palestinian liberation and by bringing to the conscience of western governments in particular, and more widely, the people of the world, the suffering daily wrought by the blockade.
A flotilla of eight boats carrying thousands of tonnes of construction materials, medical equipment and other aid is preparing to sail to Gaza in the next few days, setting the scene for a confrontation with Israel which has vowed to prevent the ships breaking the blockade on the Palestinian territory.
Three cargo ships and five passenger vessels plan to meet up in international waters between Cyprus and Gaza Strip before heading towards Gaza City. The Israeli military is expected to stop the flotilla and divert it to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
One of the organisers of the flotilla, which includes three vessels from Turkey, is IHH, a humanitarian aid group supported by Ankara. Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated since the Israelis launched a three-week war on Gaza in 2008-09. An attempt to block the flotilla is likely to increase tensions between the two countries. The Turkish prime minister, Racep Tayyip Erdogan, has called on Israel to avoid this by allowing the boats through.
"This could make relations between Israel and Turkey more complicated," said Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.more