Tehran Threatens to Send Its Own Aid Flotilla to Gaza

Iran is threatening to send a flotilla of its own bearing humanitarian aid and volunteers to the Gaza Strip; Revolutionary Guard ships might even escort the vessels.

Well wishers waving at a flotilla off the coast of Herzliya yesterday.
Alon Ron

A senior official of the Iranian Red Crescent announced in Tehran yesterday that the flotilla would aim to deliver humanitarian assistance.

"One ship will carry the contributions of the [Iranian] nation and the other ship will carry aid workers," said Abdul Rauf Adibazadeh.

Earlier, a senior member of the Revolutionary Guard announced that Iranian warships could escort flotillas to Gaza. He did not make clear whether the offer was for Iran's aid ships or any ship bound for the Strip.

Iranian spokesmen also mentioned the possibility of anchoring a hospital ship off Gaza, and of flying a cargo aircraft with supplies to Egypt for delivery to the Gaza border.

None of the Iranian offers have been acknowledged or coordinated with the Egyptian government, which considers them a provocation by the Iranian regime that it suspects is trying to destabilize the country.

Meanwhile, the National Student Union is planning a flotilla with hundreds of yachts from Israel that would meet the next aid flotilla at sea.

According to Boaz Toporovsky, the union's chairman, 400 yacht owners have expressed interest in the initiative, which is expected to start up in two weeks.

"Our wish is to talk with the members of the flotilla, to see if they want to talk to us, and to ask them why the problems of Israel, in Gaza and Palestine, are disturbing them," Toporovsky told Haaretz last night.

"We would ask why they are not talking about the Kurdish minority or the Armenians that were murdered or many other problems? We want to expose the truth, this hypocrisy and the absurdity."

Even though there are reports from Turkey, Iran and European activists that ideas exist for another flotilla to Gaza, it appears there are no concrete plans to break the blockade in the coming two weeks.

The Free Gaza movement has begun another round of fundraising for an aid flotilla, and there is talk that a three-ship mission will be organized.

Meanwhile, the student union and a nongovernmental organization of former navy personnel are trying to raise funds for leasing a ship that will travel to Turkey to protest in favor of the Kurds.

Toporovsky says that "we thought of an idea of sailing to Turkey or to the northern part of Cyprus, or to southern Turkey, where there is a concentration of Kurds."