Freedom Flotilla II prepares sail for Gaza, Israel firm in defense of coastal waters

nist7

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Photo of the Mavi Marmara which led last year's flotilla, docking at Ashdod.

A year and a bit after the ill-fated interception of the Mavi Marmara that headed last year's flotilla to Gaza, Israel is bracing for another one. This time around, say authorities, they are more prepared, having learned the lessons from operations to public relations and media. (We'll get back to that second point later.)

Israel launched a diplomatic, legal and bureaucratic offensive to prevent the flotilla well in advance and for months has been appealing to governments to block their citizens' efforts to participate, with a certain degree of success. Easing restrictions on goods entering Gaza certainly helped, as has the recent Egyptian decision to open the Raffah crossing, which Israel did not like but quickly recognized as advantageous in this context.

The ships are supposed to rendevous in the Mediterranean and then sail to Gaza but some of the likely candidates in the region are dropping out. Cyprus has announced it will not let the ships in, Greece will let them in but is stalling them with red tape at Israel's request, activists complain. Greece has its own issues this week and will have limited energy to spend on this, one way or the other.

Elsewhere in Europe, delegations met with problems as insurance companies were reluctant to issue policies for the ships and their passengers, after an Israeli legal group, Shurat Hadin, sent letters to the world's leading marine insurance companies advising them they could be held accountable for damages and complicit to violating the law. Other initiatives seek to block satellite communications services to the ships.

The Turkey-based IHH was to be the biggest contingent of the flotilla, its massive passenger ship the largest by far of the dozens of vessels originally slated to sail. Last week the organization announced the ship was staying home.

...

In recent weeks, the military completed a series of comprehensive drills for intercepting the next flotilla. Netanyahu is determined to uphold the naval blockade, which Israel says aims only to prevent gunrunning to Hamas-ruled Gaza and not against Palestinian civilians. On Monday, the security cabinet approved the operational plan presented by the army.

Israel has reached understandings with Egypt about the ships docking in El Arish and inspecting the cargo before transfer to Gaza by land in case participants decline Israel's invitation to dock at its Ashdod port -- as expected. There's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, repeat Israeli spokespeople, who call the flotilla a provocation.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/06/israel-next-gaza-flotilla-ahoy-kind-of.html

Here's a list of the ships: http://ustogaza.org/list-of-boats-in-the-2nd-freedom-flotilla/ (Note the aptly named 'Audacity of Hope' American ship)

Apparently someone cut the propellers of one of the ships, Juliano and the American ship has been stalled at Athens: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2011/0627/Apparent-sabotage-against-Gaza-flotilla

Israel firm in their resolve to prevent flotilla from reaching Gaza coast: http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/israeli-defence-ministry-told-to-firmly-deal-with-flotilla-1.829209

IDF reports intelligence that flotilla activists plan to use sulfur and kill Israeli soldiers: http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=226827

It was difficult to find one news article that captures overall the situation and what is happening as of today but it appears that the official start of the Freedom Flotilla II is yet to happen due to political other pressures that has hindered participation and the start.

Nonetheless, the Flotilla organizers are determined to make it to Gaza and Israel has vowed in their firmness to defend the Gaza waters. So it will be very interesting to see how this situation develops in the coming next few days. Will we see a repeat of what happened last year? Let's just hope for no bloodshed but I fear that may not be the case.

I will try to keep this top post updated as much as possible. This thread will be as much of a discussion thread as it is a news portal on the situation so any of you with new/interesting information/article are highly encouraged to participate so we can all keep on top of this possibly highly volatile situation.
 
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SpitfireMK461

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Sail to Egypt and bring the goods in by land; Egypt opened the border for a reason. At the very least they should talk to Israel to try and find a solution if moving by land is too impractical. Trying to run the blockade is just trying to stir up trouble.
 

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Don't believe a single word out of Jpost. In military situations, they're as close as you get to an official microphone stand for the IDF. Don't believe what the activists say. They're a direct party in the conflict.

I predict they won't make it through. I predict the Jpost claims they'll use sulfur is absolute crap. They talked about guns last time, and they managed to find a couple of toolboxes, the knives out of the kitchen and a lot of iron tubing that's not uncommon to have on a ship. Which are all useful weapons in hand to hand combat. But not arms trading. I also predict they'll strip search anyone who's not a member of a European parliament or a famous writer, steal their telephones, camera equipment and computer gear. They'll make up good excuses for why people being held back can't meet embassy staff, and they'll do a relatively good job of spining the story to their point of view, as they'll monopolize any form of information in the first day or two.

I don't expect deaths. I don't think either side wants that.

Bloody hell, why can't you have a midnight sun down there? And some proper, international observers following the ships with high tech camera gear?

Edit: Spitfire, the whole POINT of running the blockade is to break what these people see as an illegal blockade. Going through official channels if it doesn't lead to breaking the blockade would make as much sense as protesting police brutality by beating up a priest.
 
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nist7

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Sail to Egypt and bring the goods in by land; Egypt opened the border for a reason. At the very least they should talk to Israel to try and find a solution if moving by land is too impractical. Trying to run the blockade is just trying to stir up trouble.
The LA Times quote up there reports that Israel and Egypt has agreed to allow flotilla to dock at El Arish, and Israel itself is also reported to allow flotilla to dock at its own port of Ashdod but the article mentions the flotilla likely will not dock there and the point of the flotilla is to reach Gaza directly. While it is probably most safe to simply sail to Egypt and then transport cargo by land it seems very unlikely that that's what the flotilla will do since sailing or at least trying to sail to Gaza is the point of the flotilla in arguing that the blockade is illegal. Going through 'official' channels is not the purpose of the flotilla. edit: as nomix pointed out above.
 
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nomix

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Going to Ashdod would, as previously stated, make no sense what-so-ever for them. As for Egypt, it's a chink in their argument (and it does prove the futility of the blockade, all it does is ruin Gaza fishermen), however, their point is to get through the blockade, it's a question of propaganda, trying to make Israel look bad.

Which they managed very well last year. And it wasn't just because people died.
 

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Israel rescinds warning against journalists who are found on board the flotilla: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israel-drops-warning-to-foreign-journalists-on-gaza-flotilla/2011/06/27/AGGp2mnH_story.html

So if that's the case maybe we could get some good video footage from both sides as that article mentioned Israel also plans to embed journalists on their military ships which would most likely intercept the flotilla. But of course seizure and destruction of any recorded footage is still very possible.
 

nomix

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I wouldn't put two ounces of trust into that. All they have to do is confiscate your press card, and they can throw your memory card into the Med. However, I hope we'll get at least a hint of objective reporting. It would be invaluable.
 

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Edit: Spitfire, the whole POINT of running the blockade is to break what these people see as an illegal blockade. Going through official channels if it doesn't lead to breaking the blockade would make as much sense as protesting police brutality by beating up a priest.
To expand, my point is that they don't have a hope of actually breaking the blockade, so trying to do so is just causing pointless trouble. Last year showed Israel is serious about the blockade, and they apparently have enough support in the region as shown by Greece and others holding up the flotilla. If they want to make a point, demonstrate that the blockade is overly and unnecessarily hampering aid efforts if it is as such (aka go the land route).
 

nomix

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It's still not their point. Their point is to delegitimize the blockade itself. And going into Ahsdod would make no sense. Going to Egypt is a better option, but the coastline would still be unbreached.
 

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Gaza flotilla ship 'sabotaged by divers
Activists say Swedish ship due to join attempt to break Israel's blockade of Gaza has been damaged in Greek port.

A Swedish ship due to join an upcoming Gaza-bound aid flotilla has been sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus, organisers say.

In a statement, they said "hostile divers had destroyed the propeller house and cut the propeller shaft" of the vessel Juliano on Monday.

The ship is part of the 10-vessel Freedom Flotilla II that is expected to set sail from Greece and elsewhere for the Gaza Strip in the coming days in a bid to break Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory.

About 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries are likely to participate.

Israel insists the latest flotilla is a "dangerous provocation" and has vowed to intercept it.

Determined organisers


Organisers of the flotilla, however, remain defiant and said the Juliano would be ready to sail within one or two days after being repaired. They said they had documented the sabotage with their own camera-equipped divers.

"We are sad that people are doing such things but we are determined to continue to Gaza," Dror Feiler, one of the organisers, told Al Jazeera from aboard the Juliano.

"We will not be frightened by Israel, and we are going to continue. Our friends from all around the world are with us, and we are all going to Gaza."

Mattias Gardell, a spokesperson for Ship to Gaza Sweden, also condemned the act of sabotage.

"It's one thing for a foreign power to press the Greek government to delay our voyage with red tape. It is quite another thing for enemy agents to operate on Greek territory.

"It is high time for the international community to put their foot down and say: Enough!"
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/06/2011628101331334709.html
 

nomix

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In that case, I hope they make a catapult and bombard jetsetters house with miscellaneous aid.
 

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I hope that a random country's secret service sneaks into jetsetter's house and cuts random bits of his computer off to prevent him from posting on the internet, because they can, and fuck the law anyway.
 

nomix

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And cut one leg off his bed. And drill a hole in his muffler. So he gets a ticket for a noise pollution.

Well, not really. But it would be kind of funny.
 

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Yes we need more Israeli international vigilantism in the world.
 

nomix

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Tbh., the Flotilla is.. international vigelantism. Sort of.
 

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just saying: wouldn't it be more practical to not get the IDF pissed and spend the money that would have been spent on boats and permits and fuel on more aid? if it's so paramount to bring aid, and if this is a humanitarian voyage, saving $800,000 plus by just using it for aid seems to be much better. now if the meaning of the flotilla is, in fact, to provoke a response from Israel, well then that's pretty fuckin shameful. I'm not saying the divers were right and i'm not saying that ANYONE should be hurt, but if that's the case, the flotilla is on its own.
 

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Just saying: Why don't people get the point of the flotilla? It's not about a few tons of concrete and rice, it's about the principle. It's making a point. It's trying to make a difference, an action to intice Israel to lift the damn thing.

You can say a lot of things about the last flotilla, but Israel at least lifted some parts of the blockade. Yeah, they did. With no real significant impact on security. Which means there were things on the no-pass list before that were there not for security, but because Israel felt like it. It's like those blasted security guards at ben Gurion who get you to place one random thing from your hand luggage in the checked in luggage. In my case, they took my tobacco ("security risk, Sir. No, Sir, you're not supposed to understand it"), other people had to pack down their chewing gum, another chap had to put the headset to his damned MP3-player in checked in luggage. It's just randomness to screw you over. And I've got a problem with that.

The blockade itself is not just about security, it's about showing Gaza that Israel can do whatever it wants, and that no one can do anything about it.

Except that a flotilla did do something about it, unlike most of us lazy, stupid, ignorant slobs, they actually cared enough to sail against one of the most mighty military organisations in the world, unarmed (a couple of tool boxes, basic resources for repair and kitchen knives confiscated primarily from the kitchen drawres are not weapons in this context, even if they can and was used as such), knowing that the Israeli military would do anything short of torpedoing them to stop them getting through. They showed remarkable courage, and remembering what did happen because of faults on both sides a year ago, so are this years bunch of bastards.

They did something. And it had an effect.

I'm sure you'll find the odd Hamas supporter there. Just as you might find the odd IRA supporter in the US congress. That doesn't mean that every US congressman supported the IRA, or that this flotilla is about supporting Hamas.

/Rant
 

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unarmed doesn't mean not violent. that's a thin line and the first flotilla crossed it. if the knives and pipes were used as such, deadly force is totally reasonable. it doesn't matter if the 'activists' on the boats or the terrorists in gaza improvise their rockets or blades, but what does is their usage despite claiming to be peaceful.

And no, it's not randomness to screw you over at ben gurion. it's a psychological profiling exercise. it's the reason you can take a bottle of water from a kiosk in jerusalem on an airplane from there. you can actually do that. putting the headset inside is retarded but i honestly, as someone who flies through ben gurion often, can't see that as true.

ALSO: in terms of security: I'm not sure if it's related, but there was a marked increase in rocket launches against israel since the first flotilla.
 
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nomix

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unarmed doesn't mean not violent. that's a thin line and the first flotilla crossed it. if the knives and pipes were used as such, deadly force is totally reasonable. it doesn't matter if the 'activists' on the boats or the terrorists in gaza improvise their rockets or blades, but what does is their usage despite claiming to be peaceful.
Please get my point. The IDF tried to prove the flotilla were smuggling weapons. They might even have thought so themselves. But it's pathetic to see what "weapons" they found to substansiate the claim they were in fact bringing weapons. While a wrench can and was used as a weapon, it isn't a weapon. Every single piece of 'weaponry" presented by the IDF in the following days were items you would find not only on most ships, but in most homes.

And please understand that I was NOT talking about wether or not the IDF soldiers were justified in opening fire (I might be less open with regards to the guy who got shot through the back of his head), I am talking about the damned silly claim that they were bringing weapons. They were not. It was a damned lie.

Another point I'd like to make is that Israel did its best to shut out any accounts of what happened other than their own for as long as possible. In many ways, that was a mistake. Because we can't trust them when they tell us what's happening. They did the same thing during Cast Lead. I do sometimes wonder wether or not the people making press policy in the IDF are morons. Because both those acts were extremely stupid. At least they've agreed to respect the freedom of the press this year. God knows if they'll follow through, though.

Oh, another thing. If they want to be believed, do the boarding in daylight. NOT at night.

And no, it's not randomness to screw you over at ben gurion. it's a psychological profiling exercise. it's the reason you can take a bottle of water from a kiosk in jerusalem on an airplane from there. you can actually do that. putting the headset inside is retarded but i honestly, as someone who flies through ben gurion often, can't see that as true.
Well, we weren't exactly the most popular campers. It's not exactly top secret that Israeli security likes to screw with anyone identified as less condoning of every single piece of Israeli policy. I have to say I am very glad I am not an arab.

Other than that, I know Israeli security do a lot of psychological profiling, which I'm fine with. It's actually a good idea. However, I fail to see how taking my smokeless tobacco from me would make much of a difference in terms of security. The only result would be to make me grumpy fidgety on the plane.

ALSO: in terms of security: I'm not sure if it's related, but there was a marked increase in rocket launches against israel since the first flotilla.
Is it as bad as it was in 2008 before the Flotilla? It looks like it increased every single year since the blockade was put in place, only to fall in 2009 after Cast Lead.

So we both win. You're right, Cast Lead did decrease the number of attacks (I suppose that's your position), and I'm right, the blockade didn't do anything but increase the attacks. Give the blockade another year, and they'll be back at a higher level.

Oh, btw, I suppose the reason you didn't respond to the point about the flotilla being about principle rather than the aid resources in question because you understood what I was hinting at?

Cause and effect.
 
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