New Gaza flotilla to set sail with 1,500 activists in 15 ships, says İHH

Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) President Bülent Yıldırım (C)

May 20, 2011, Friday/ 16:00:00

A Turkish charity that owned a ship raided by Israeli commandoes last year said on Friday that a new flotilla to deliver aid to Gaza is set to set sail next month with more than 1,500 activists in 15 ships.

Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) President Bülent Yıldırım called a press conference on Friday at the charity's office in İstanbul and said they plan to set sail with participants from more than 100 countries “for humanity.”

An international convoy of ships, the Freedom Flotilla 2, is expected to sail to Gaza next month, one year after a deadly Israeli raid on a similar flotilla on May 31 of last year. Eight Turks and one Turkish American were killed on a Turkish ship in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, during the raid. The flotilla was trying to break an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Turkey, a former Muslim ally of the Jewish state, has scaled back ties since then, demanding Israel apologize and pay damages for the deadly raid, which caused an international outcry.

Noting that everyone with a conscience expects the new flotilla to set sail, Yıldırım underlined that the new flotilla is part of an international move and that İHH is just a small part of it. “This is an activity organized by 22 organizations,” he added.

The İHH president also called on Israel to let the flotilla enter Gaza and to not repeat the same mistake. Yıldırım said they are planning to set sail in the last week of June. Israel recently asked Turkey to prevent activists planning to join the aid convoy to the Palestinian enclave next month. Turkey warned the Turkish activists of the risks of trying to break an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, but these groups are outside the government's control, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in response.

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