The Turkish organisation IHH has said it is reconsidering its participation in the planned “Freedom Flotilla 2” set to sail for Gaza on June 27th. The group has sighted recent developments in Syria as well as the easing of restrictions on goods going into Gaza from the Rafah Gaza-Egypt border crossing as influencing considerations on whether to sail.
The group is part of 22 boats set to sail to Gaza with the aim of breaking the Israeli siege on the Palestinian coastal hamlet.
Israel has said it will use all force necessary to prevent the flotilla reaching its destination. Israeli forces are undergoing training to halt the flotilla with a focus, they claim, on non lethal force.
Huge pressure has been put on Turkey’s government to prevent the IHH, which Israel considers a terrorist group, from taking part in the flotilla. While FM Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey cannot stop the IHH from setting sail he encouraged the group to reconsider.
A spokesman for the group Huseyin Oruc told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that recent developments require the group consider its plans to take part. “We will discuss the emerging conditions. Every country has its own balance. From our point of view, the developments in neighbouring Syria are critically important,’ Oruc said.
The group are also awaiting the results of the Rafah border opening and how it will affect quality of life in Gaza as well as the recent unity deal between the two rival Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas.
Last year, IHH flotilla activists were killed when Israeli forces boarded the boats travelling as part of the original “Freedom Flotilla”. Nine people were killed in total, one a Turkish-US citizen.