The organizers of the Gaza Flotillas have announced a May 31st departure, bafflingly describing it as "the first anniversary of Tel Aviv's deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla" (Since when does Tel Aviv have its own attack force?)
As reported on Press TV, the 15-ship flotilla will be twice as big as last year's convoy and carry a total of 1,500 people, including activists from Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Canada and the United States.
They go on to claim that "Tel Aviv laid an economic siege on the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after the democratically-elected government of Hamas took control of the enclave", yet have not provided any evidence that this city of 400,000 has its own foreign policy.
The leader of the Turkish organization IHH, Bülent Yildirim, which participated in the last flotilla, announced earlier this month: “We are not afraid to die as shaheeds [martyrs]” and that the use of force and violence may occur.
The flotilla is scheduled in spite of the International Red Cross's statement "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza"
Israel delivers more than a ton of aid per person to Gaza. About 50,000 tons of goods and humanitarian aid are transferred to Gaza biweekly. Currently, 250 trucks cross from Israel into Gaza daily.
However, other sources indicate that the flotilla is having trouble recruiting volunteers and raising funds.
"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."
Perhaps the recent death of ISM operative Vittorio Arrigoni, and the apparent inability of Hamas to guarantee the safety of international activists has had a chilling affect on recruitment