IHH leader Bülent Yildirim said the upcoming flotilla to the Gaza Strip might be delayed. He added that in addition to the flotilla the purchase of an aircraft was in progress. He said only one problem remained: “The virus called Zionism.” At this point the status of the plan/plans is unknown.
1. Preparations continue for “Freedom Fleet 2,” the updated flotilla to the Gaza Strip organized by the anti-Israeli coalition. The flotilla is expected to be launched on or about May 31, the anniversary of the events of the Mavi Marmara. One of the most prominent organizations behind it is the Turkish IHH, the motivating force behind in the previous flotilla.
2. On April 7, at the monthly ceremony held in Alanya in southern Turkey in honor of the operatives who died aboard the Mavi Marmara, IHH leader Bülent Yildirim gave a strongly anti-Israeli anti-Semitic speech (for example, he said “We have only one problem, the virus called Zionism”).1 Of the upcoming flotilla he said that although it was meant to commemorate the confrontation aboard the Mavi Marmara, it would set sail only in the middle of June. He said a ship would sail from every country “so that Israel understands it does not control the Mediterranean Sea.” He said the Mavi Marmara would also participate, sailing from “a European country” [Note: He did not say which one]. “We are not afraid to die as shaheeds,” he stated, “…[and] will not retreat until the siege on the Gaza Strip is broken and we complete our journey to Al-Aqsa mosque.”
3. Bülent Yildirim said that the road to the Gaza Strip would be taken by air as well as by sea and land, and that the IHH was currently in the process of purchasing a plane (haberler.com website, April 7, 2011).
4. The initiative to send a plane to the Gaza Strip was authored by the Free Palestine Movement (FPM), which operates from the West Coast of the United States and participates in flotillas to the Gaza Strip. This past summer (2010) Paul Larudee, the FPM leader, said they were zealously implementing a concrete plan in coordination with the “authorities in Gaza” [i.e., the de facto Hamas administration]. The remarks made by Bülent Yildirim indicate that the Turkish IHH, which plays a key role in the upgraded flotilla, is also dealing with a plane to the Gaza Strip, either independently or in conjunction with other organizations. However, at this point the status of the preparations forsending a plane or planes to the Gaza Strip is unknown to us.
1 For further information about Bülent Yildirim’s anti-Semitic remarks, see the December 6, 2010 ITIC bulletin, IHH leader Bulent Yildirim gave an interview focusing on the U.S. intention to designate the IHH as a terrorist organization and on the Mavi Marmara incident