Tags: Analysis: Gaza Aid Flotilla Ends with Whimper

Analysis: Gaza Aid Flotilla Ends with Whimper

Friday, 08 Jul 2011 08:02 AM


Greece’s decision to prevent a second Gaza “aid” flotilla reflects Athens’ desperate need for assistance with its economic problems and international exasperation with Hamas and its supporters.

A new flotilla of activists and economic assistance intended to challenge Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza fizzled this week after Greece refused to allow the ships to leave the port of Athens and several ships were sabotaged. Greek authorities blocked the flotilla over concerns for the safety of the activists and to avoid a repeat of the May 2010 Gaza flotilla that led to the deaths of nine flotilla passengers – all Turkish citizens -- during a melee that resulted when Israeli commandos boarded the ships.

The new flotilla had significantly less support than its May 2010 predecessor which left from Turkish waters with at least moral support from Turkish authorities. Despite damage to Turkey-Israel relations due to the violence that ensued during the last flotilla, the Turkish foreign minister discouraged the new flotilla and the IHH, a Turkish radical Islamic charity that sponsored the 2010 flotilla, pulled out of the 2011 convoy reportedly in response to pressure from the Turkish government. The UN Secretary General also discouraged the flotilla and praised a Greek offer to transport the flotilla’s humanitarian aid to Gaza, an offer that flotilla organizers rejected.

The Israeli Government threatened to use all necessary force to stop the flotilla and enforce its Gaza blockade which began in 2006 due to rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and the June 2006 kidnapping by Hamas of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israeli officials believe the flotilla could be used to transport weapons and terrorists to Gaza.

The would-be 2011 Gaza flotilla passengers included peace activists from several countries, including the United States, France, and Spain. According to the London Guardian, many returned home when a deadline for Greece to release the flotilla by its organizers expired yesterday. According to CNN, some activists will try to get around the failure of the flotilla by flying to Tel Aviv on Friday to carry out their protests in Israel. Israeli officials, according to the Guardian, are prepared for this possibility.

Analysis

The Greek decision to block the Gaza flotilla represents a change in policy for Athens which historically has favored Palestinian causes over Israel and only recently began to build strong diplomatic ties with Israel. While this change in policy could in part be an effort to exploit soured Israel-Turkey relations, the main motivation probably is the desire by Greek leaders to move beyond the country’s radical past with policies that could help resolve the Greek debt crisis.

Israel is committed to maintaining the blockade of Gaza until Hamas changes its policies, especially its commitment to the destruction of Israel, and frees Gilad Shalit. While there is no evidence that Israel sabotaged the flotilla ships, there is a high probability this was the case since Israeli leaders probably regarded carrying out such acts with its highly capable intelligence service a far better option than another confrontation at sea.

Fred Fleitz recently joined Newsmax after a 25 year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the US Department of State, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staff. He served as Chief of Staff to Ambassador John Bolton and as a Senior Adviser to former House Intelligence Ranking Member Peter Hoekstra.


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Analysis: Gaza Aid Flotilla Ends with Whimper
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2011-02-08
Friday, 08 Jul 2011 08:02 AM
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