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The Mavi Marmara last May
Photo: AFP
Report: New Gaza flotilla postponed
IHH claims delay due to Turkish elections in June, but reports cite trouble recruiting activists

Pro-Palestinian activists organizing the next Gaza flotilla said Tuesday they are having a hard time recruiting activists, vessels and crew members.

 

Apparently many fear a confrontation with the Israeli naval commandoes after eight Turks and one Turkish-American died during an IDF raid last May onboard the Mavi Marmara, according to reports making their way to the political echelon in Jerusalem.

 

The sea convoy was set to sail to the Gaza Strip in late May, the first anniversary of the raid, but it could be delayed, partly because it clashes with Turkish election campaigning.

 

IHH officials, an Islamic aid group that operates the Mavi Marmara, announced they plan to postpone the flotilla until after the June 12 parliamentary elections.

 

IHH, which says it plans to send 100 to 150 people on the flotilla, is inclined to launch its ship after the vote for fear controversy could disrupt the election debate. The group communicates closely with the Turkish government, but says it does not need "permission" to send its boat to Gaza.

 

However recent reports claimed there is another reason for the delay: Many of the activists who signed up for the mission canceled after learning the flotilla is illegal and might lead to their arrest by Israel.

 

It also turns out the Turkish organizers have been largely unsuccessful in raising donations to fund the operation. Many ship owners refused to loan their vessels for the cause, fearing they might be confiscated by Israel. Now the activists are forced to buy the ships themselves.

 

Organizers said they expect at least 1,000 people to participate this year, adding that the new effort includes activists from Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Canada and the United States.

 

AP contributed to the report

 

 

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