Thursday, May 27, 2010

IDF: Terrorists at Gaza flotilla launch

05/27/2010 15:28

Activists won't push Hamas to allow Schalit visit for docking rights.

High-ranking Islamic extremists were present at the Istanbul launch ceremony of a boat participating in the Gaza flotilla, according to a report by the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center publicized by the IDF Spokespersons' Unit on Thursday. Some of the ceremony participants included Mahmad Tzoalha and Sahar Albirawi, two top Hamas terrorists operating in the UK, and Hamam Said, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

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Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the radical Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel reportedly also attended the event. Salah has has previously admitted in an Israeli court to contacting Hamas agents.

Schalit family offers activists quid pro quo

The Schalit family on Thursday asked for assistance from international left-wing activists due to arrive in the Gaza Strip later in the day.

If the left-wing activists pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to bring letters and food packages to Gilad Schalit, the kidnapped soldier's family has agreed to support the international expedition's attempt to dock, Army Radio reported Thursday.

Lawyer Nick Kaufman presented the offer to the organization "Free Gaza," one of the organizers of the flotilla headed for Gaza, which promptly refused the offer.

"We are disappointed that the organizers of the flotilla have refused to also provide basic humanitarian assistance to our son, who has been held in Gaza four years in contradiction of international law," said the Schalit family.

IDF prepares for different response scenarios

The IDF announced Wednesday evening that it was planning to stop the international convoy of nine ships currently on its way to Gaza carrying hundreds of activists and thousands of tons of supplies.

“If they decide to continue sailing and do not listen to the instructions, then they will be stopped, brought to Israel and dealt with by the Interior Ministry, which will return them to the countries they came from,” an IDF statement said.

The IDF has offered instead to unload the supplies at the port in Ashdod and transfer the shipment to the Gaza Strip, after inspecting it for weaponry, according to an Army Radio report on Thursday.

The Navy has held a number of drills in recent weeks to prepare for the arrival of the small fleet, which is expected to try breaking the Israel-imposed sea blockade on Gaza and dock at its newly expanded port.

The scenarios drilled included the commandeering of the ships, which could, military sources said Wednesday, include violent clashes – depending on the response by the passengers on the vessels.

“This flotilla is a provocation that is not needed considering the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which is stable and good,” said Col. Moshe Levi, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration. Levi said that 100 trucks, loaded with supplies, enter Gaza on a daily basis, and that in the past two months over 1,200 tons of medical supplies were transferred to the Strip.

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