Hundreds of Activists From Muslim Countries Planning New Gaza-bound Flotilla

The Turkish charity IHH, which sponsored a Gaza-bound flotilla that Israeli commandos boarded in a deadly raid last spring, say some 500 activists from Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Turkey aim to break blockade by December 27.

Pro-Palestinian activists from dozens of Muslim countries are planning to send a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip in a new effort to break Israel's blockade of the coastal territory.

The Turkish charity IHH, which sponsored a Gaza-bound flotilla that Israeli commandos boarded in a deadly raid last spring, said Monday that some 500 activists would take part in a new flotilla that hopes to reach Gaza by December 27.

Mavi Marmara
The Mavi Marmara, aboard which Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish activists, leaving Haifa on August 5, 2010.AP

The activists will set off from India by land on Dec. 2, cross Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Syria, then try to reach Gaza by sea, said a spokesman for the charity. IHH will organize the Turkish leg of the trip.

The group sponsored the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that was intercepted by Israeli commandos May 31. Eight Turkish activists and a Turkish-American died in the raid, which sparked international condemnation.

Since then activists have sailed en route to Gaza on board a number of separate ships, but none has yet tried to organize a new flotilla. Israel has declared that it would stop – by force if necessary - any attempts to breach its waters and enter Gaza.