As the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) and a number of European solidarity groups declared intentions to send a relief flotilla to the besieged Gaza Strip this coming May, Israel will be declaring a campaign on Tuesday to counter the flotilla.May marks one year after the Israeli Navy and army commandos boarded the Turkish solidarity ship that was part of the Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza to deliver medical and humanitarian supplies, killing nine Turkish activists and wounding dozens, before towing the ship to Ashdod Port.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that Israel’s Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, plans to hold meetings with Foreign Ambassadors in Tel Aviv to ask them to help Israel in stopping the new flotilla that is expected to include at least 15 solidarity ships.
Although the exact sailing date was not officially announced, Israel estimates that the ships will sail between May 15, the day that marks the Nakba, and May 31 which marks the date of the deadly Israeli attack against the Freedom Flotilla.
Haaretz reported that 30 organizations from 15 countries held a meeting in Spain nearly six weeks ago to discuss the plans, and also asked governments whose nationals will be boarding the ships to guarantee their safety should Israel intercept and attack the ships.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has been active in contacting different governments, including the governments of Britain, Spain, Sweden and Ireland, to advise their citizens against joining solidarity ships heading to Gaza.
Ten days ago, the President of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, visited Tel Aviv, and stated that more than one year ago, his government issued an order banning ships from sailing to the Gaza Strip from all ports in the country, and that the order remains in place.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli Foreign Ministry does not believe that the flotilla can be stopped using diplomatic means, but decided to try diplomatic means and media campaigns that aim at delegitimizing the flotilla.
Following pressures from Israel, Britain, Ireland and Spain had already issued advisories to their citizens against heading to the Gaza Strip.