Turkish charity rules out cancellation of Gaza mission

A Turkish charity group denied Turkish and Israeli reports that they were considering to cancel plans to send new aid flotilla to the besieged Gaza Strip.

By Hamit Kardaş, World Bulletin | News Desk | June 15, 2011

A Turkish charity group denied Turkish and Israeli reports that they were considering to cancel plans to send new aid flotilla to the besieged Gaza Strip.

The denial comes in response to a Turkish English-language newspaper Hürriyet Daily News that said, “the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH it may cancel its plans depending on developments, especially in Syria.”

Hüseyin Oruç, a board member of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, and the spokesman for the new flotilla, told the paper, “we will discuss the emerging conditions. Every country has its own balance. From our point of view, the developments in neighboring Syria are critically important,” he told the Daily News.

“Our goal is not to set sail to Gaza. We think we can serve the purpose by sending a ship or canceling it,” Oruç said Tuesday.

“We are reconsidering our plans. The international community is talking about an intervention in Syria, a development that would affect Turkey very much, as well as Palestine and peace in the region. All the factors are inter-linked and we must be looking at all of them,” Oruç added.

When World Bulletin contacted to IHH, the authorities ruled out a cancellation.

Speaking to World Bulletin, IHH officials said that “the new flotilla definitely will set sail to Gaza as scheduled. Yet we are talking to a plan Mavi Marmara ship will start journey a bit later and join the main flotilla off Gaza. It will be clear in today’s or tomorrow’s meeting. Definitely Mavi Marmara ship will set sail to Gaza as other ships of the new flotilla.”

Twenty-two vessels from different countries, including the Mavi Marmara, are set to meet in international waters close to the southern parts of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on June 27 before sailing to Gaza, according to the initial plans. The international activists involved in the new flotilla will meet in Athens this weekend, Oruç told the paper.

In May of last year, Israeli marines attacked a six-ship flotilla in international waters and killed eight Turkish and a Turkish-American activists aboard one vessel, the Mavi Marmara.

The killings led to a breakdown in already strained ties between Turkey and Israel. Turkey demands apology from Israel for killing its citizens and compensation for the victims.

Israel imposes a siege on Gaza, an act that amounts to war crimes according to international human rights laws. Many states and the United Nations have called for the blockade to be lifted in a call Israel never heed until now.

Meanwhile, Israeli reports say navy will hold a large scale exercise Wednesday as it prepares to stop a flotilla of some 15 ships planning to break the Israel-imposed blockade over the Gaza Strip.

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