Two More Gaza-bound Flotillas to Set Sail in Spring

Groups responsible for sending last aid flotilla, on which nine activists were killed, have organized more maritime convoys; Turkish pro-Palestinian group linked to Hamas is one of the organizers.

Two of the groups that organized the May 31 Gaza-bound flotilla will be sending two more flotillas to Gaza in the spring, as part of a campaign against Israel's blockade of the Strip, an activist in the Free Gaza movement said on Sunday.

The latest maritime convoys are expected to set sail in April and in late May, and are being organized by groups including Free Gaza and IHH, a Turkish pro-Palestinian organization that has been linked to Hamas.

Turks greeting the return of the Mavi Marmara last month. AP

The decision, due to be officially announced later this week, comes as an Israeli committee of inquiry announced its finding that the naval commandos who raided last year's May flotilla acted in self-defense when they killed nine Turkish citizens on board its lead ship, the Mavi Marmara.

The Free Gaza activist who reported the planned flotillas, Kafr Kana resident Lubna Masarwa, who was on board the Mavi Marmara, said this year's convoys would have more ships and more volunteers, including politicians and well-known athletes and artists.

These will not be the first flotillas to set off for Gaza since the naval raid, which was followed last June by the Irish-flagged Rachel Corrie - a ship owned by the Free Gaza movement and named after a pro-Palestinian American activist crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer during a protest in Gaza.