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Anti-Israel activists in 1,000 vessels expected to depart from Turkey to Gaza to 'peacefully' disrupt Israeli port traffic

Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian aid to Gaza, leaves from Sarayburnu port in Istanbul May 22, 2010. (Photo: REUTERS/Emrah Dalkaya)

International anti-Israel activists are expected to gather in Turkish waters on Wednesday before departing in some 1,000 vessels to sail to Gaza on Thursday in a renewed effort to break the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-held coastal enclave.

The anti-Israel naval provocation is notably similar to the infamous Turkish Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 when nine Turkish anti-Israel activists were killed after attacking Israeli naval commandos.

Volkan Okçu, one of the organizers of the new anti-Israel flotilla, told the Turkish news website Haber7 that some 4,500 individuals from 40 countries will travel on the vessels, “including anti-Zionist Jews.”

While the flotilla, once again, originates in Turkey, only 12 Turkish ships are expected to participate, however, more than 300 vessels will reportedly carry Russian activists and another 100 ships will bring activists from Spain.

Okçu claimed the anti-Israel naval campaign is not linked to the Turkish government but said the outcome of this flotilla would be different from 2010, where none of the vessels succeeded in reaching the shores of Gaza.

“The Zionist regime seems to have no chance to repeat the Mavi Marmara incident,” Okçu said. “The vessels sail under flags of the US, the UK, Luxembourg, Russia, Germany, Spain, Poland, and many other countries,” he added, indirectly suggesting that the Israeli government would seek to avoid a confrontation with activists from Western nations.

While the official goal of the flotilla is to end the legal Israeli blockade of the Hamas-held Gaza Strip, the Turkish activist said the flotilla vessels aim also aim to disrupt incoming international trade to the Israeli port city of Ashdod, as the majority of international goods arrive in the Jewish state via the Mediterranean Sea and into Israel’s main ports Ashdod and Haifa.

The Turkish activist also warned that the flotilla would disrupt the supply of products to Israel for up to 10 days, however, this scenario is unlikely given the strength of the Israeli Navy.

In 2010, some of the anti-Israel activists were armed with knives and baseball bats, but Okçu said this time the anti-Israel activists would “strictly follow international rules” and be unarmed, “not even a pocket knife.”

Okçu warned Israel against raiding the convoy in international waters.

“The moment we enter Gaza’s territorial waters, [Israeli forces] can only search us,” the activist said, “or tow us to their ports, and impose fines,” but will not be allowed by international law to raid the convoy in international waters, the way they assaulted the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

“[Israel] would pay a heavy price for attempting any crazy action against such a large international peace fleet,” the Turkish activist said.

Turkish Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a long history of hostility towards the Jewish state and pro-Hamas sympathies.

In March 2022 Erdoğan welcomed Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey in what initially appeared to be improved diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel. Just two months later, in May 2022, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Israel to meet with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, marking the first time a Turkish top diplomat has visited the Jewish state in 15 years.

However, since Oct. 7, Erdoğan has refused to condemn the Hamas massacre of 1,200 Israelis and the kidnapping of hostages. Instead, he has resumed his previous criticism of the Jewish state, equating Israeli self-defense with “war crimes.”

Ankara has close ties to the Hamas terror organization and several senior Hamas officials reside in Turkey. In late October, Erdoğan unsurprisingly refused to define Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation group, mujahideen waging a battle to protect its lands and people,” the Turkish president claimed.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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