Israeli forces approaching Gaza flotilla
Israel Navy forces approaching one of six ships of an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, May 31, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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The Israeli Defense Forces held a large drill Wednesday in preparation of the flotilla that intends to set sail to the Gaza Strip later this month. The drill focused on different scenarios that might occur at sea and methods to deal with them.

Organizers of the Gaza flotilla said Wednesday that they are determined to set sail even if the heads of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) do not participate. The flotilla is currently scheduled to depart in one week, marking the anniversary of last year's raid by Israel on the Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists died.

 

 

The naval exercise included intercepting ships of different sizes and handling both non-violent and violent passengers. The navy also improved the command and control abilities of its forces after boarding the ship. Real-time intelligence collection abilities have also been upgraded in order to enable commanders to make decisions at every stage based on the passenger's behavior. The navy also upgraded the filming equipment and the methods of transferring them from the ships to the IDF spokesman office. Last year, hours passed before Israel released photographs of the Mavi Marmara takeover, while the IHH activists had sent their version of events to networks worldwide.

The navy does not know when and whether it will need to intercept the flotilla, or how many ships it will include. The organizers have said dozens of ships will take part, but currently they have managed to purchase and equip only four or five ships, which might delay their departure.