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Flotilla Lessons: Turkish Suport for IHH Convoy Clash in Egypt
Still not convinced that the Turkish violence aboard the Mavi Marmara was pre-meditated?
Check out this comparison of the flotilla incident with clashes that broke out between members of George Galloway's Lifeline 3 aid convoy with Egyptian security forces last January. That's when members of Viva Palestina clashed with Egyptian security forces over restrictions on humanitarian aid being delivered overland.
One Egyptian soldier was killed, some 50 activists were injured and Galloway was ignobly deported. But IHH involvement and Turkish support was off everybody's radar.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (Malam) analyzed what happened in Egypt, finding that the violence was far more serious than we realized, and that it was actually a warm-up for the Mavi Marmara. Among Malam's findings:
Two hundred and fifty Turks participated in the convoy, approximately half of the total number, and prominent among them were IHH activists led by Bulent Yildirim.
In both instances Turkish support was central. The Turkish government played an important role in Lifeline 3, even though the convoy was dispatched by Viva Palestina. The Turkish government was involved in arranging for the convoy, and its organizers were guest of the Turkish Parliament. The heads of the government even intervened with the Egyptian authorities on behalf of the convoy.
The Egyptian restrictions led to confrontations between the security forces and the members of the convoy, prominent among whom were IHH activists led by Bulent Yildirim. According to a statement by Yildirim during the confrontation IHH activists took seven Egyptian soldiers captive. A short time thereafter three wounded soldiers were released and the remaining four were held as bargaining chips. During the confrontations 50 activists were wounded, five of them seriously . . .
IHH and Hamas learned the lessons of the Lifeline 3 convoy and the harsh Egyptian reaction. The main lesson was the need to avoid confrontations with Egypt in the future and to shift the focus of attention, practically and for the media, to Israel.
The Egyptian soldier killed in the clashes by the border may have been shot by a Hamas sniper. If so, then the Israeli navy was wise to intercept the Mavi Marmara flotilla in international waters. Haaretz reported that the navy rejected waiting for the convoy to reach Israeli waters for operational reasons:
The navy expressed concern that it would not be able to stop the flotilla once the ships reached within 20 miles of the coast," said an official who had a hand in the planning of the operation. "The IDF was fearful that the naval forces would not have adequate time to complete the operation. The army wanted to overtake the ships gradually and at a relatively great distance from the coast."
Who knows what stunts Hamas might have tried had the boats reached close enough to Gaza's shore?
For what it's worth, Amira Hass also notes that Hamas didn't treat Galloway's group very well either.
Read Malam's full report.
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