Navy Prepares at Sea to Intercept Turkish Flotilla

Navy drill intends on examining how Israel Defense Forces and other security forces apply the lessons learned from bloody events of first flotilla, which left nine Turkish activists dead.

Despite reports that the Turkish organization IHH is putting off the Gaza-bound flotilla and indications that Ankara is trying to prevent them from setting sail, the IDF held a naval drill yesterday on intercepting and boarding foreign ships.

The drill was intended to examine the way the IDF and other security forces apply the lessons learned from the bloody events of last year, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

The drill focused on taking over ships of various sizes and handling activists who respond in various ways, from passive non-violent resistance to violent clashes, as was the case on last year's flotilla. The violent scenario included the use of firearms by some of the passengers.

In addition to using new methods for overtaking ships faster with as few casualties as possible, the navy has improved its techniques for monitoring combatants on the boats as well as intelligence gathering.

Last year, several hours elapsed before Israel released photographs of the events at sea, and during this time, the IHH activists' version was broadcast to the world. To prevent this from happening again, the navy has improved methods for passing footage from its ships to the shore so as to enable the IDF spokesman to publicize the Israeli version of events faster.

It is not yet clear how many ships will take part in the flotilla and if it will even take place.

Flotilla organizers said 22 different ships are ready to rendezvous in international waters south of Cyprus and sail to Gaza, but so far they have equipped only four or five vessels.