Second Turkish Gaza Flotilla Will Have Military Escort, Group Says

Tourism minister calls on Israelis to shun Turkey, after operation to bring home some 3,000 stranded tourists.

Mavi Marmara May 22, 2010 (AP)
Photo of Mavi Marmara taken on May 22, 2010 AP

The Turkish pro-Palestinian organization IHH announced that its second Gaza flotilla will be launched soon - and will be afforded protection by the Turkish Navy, Israel's NRG reported on Sunday.

The group's chairman told local Turkish media that the mission, titled 'Freedom Flotilla II,' was in the process of finalizing the legal paperwork needed to commence on the trip, and would embark as soon as it got the necessary permissions.

This fleet, as opposed to the group's previous one that was intercepted by the Israeli navy in 2010, would be protected by the Turkish Navy, he said.

Ankara, has so far not officially confirmed the report, according to Israel Radio.

In May of 2010, a six-ship flotilla organized by the IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief) sailed toward the Gaza coast with the stated intention of breaking through the Israeli naval blockade and bringing humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza. There were over 600 Palestinian supporters, from several different countries, on board, one Israeli MK among them.

The fleet did not reach the Gaza shore; thirteen IDF soldiers were helicoptered onto the fleet's main vessel, the Mavi Marmara, and in the ensuing fight nine members of the flotilla were killed.

Israelis told to shun Turkey

A day after the government mounted an operation to bring home some 3,000 stranded tourists from Turkey, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau called on Israelis to find other countries to visit.

“Israelis don’t need to need to go traveling to places that don’t treat them with respect. If in the future the government proposes to rescue Israelis from Antalya, this won’t be a top priority for me,” he said, adding a message for the public: “Stop flying to Turkey as tourists.”