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On December 15, 2010 a ceremony was held in Gaza to commemorate the reconstruction of a building in Jabaliya that was destroyed during Operation Cast Lead—and thus the rebuilding was considered a symbolic victory of sorts for Hamas.
The keynote speech at the ceremony was delivered by Muhammad Kaya, a Turkish national. He brought the house down with the following remarks:
“We represent Turkey, and our interest and goal is not to feed the Palestinian people and bring them food, but to help them stand on their feet in face of the occupation’s oppression and support them in confronting their enemies. We are certain that if the force on this land submitted to imperialist dictates money would flow in from every side, but this force refused and stood firm in the face of challenges… the day will come when Palestinians will build their houses in Jaffa, Tel Aviv and Haifa.”
This was par for the course for speeches given under Hamas auspices, but the speaker in this case, Kaya, was actually a representative from the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief—better known as the IHH, the terrorist organization behind last year’s deadly “flotilla” that attempted to break the naval blockade of Gaza to help Hamas. The incident turned violent when the Israel Defense Forces boarded one ship, the Mavi Marmara, and were attacked by armed men.
And the IHH is behind a new flotilla, preparing to set sail for Gaza in May, in time for the one-year anniversary of the first.
“The Leader of the IHH is Bulent Yildirim, who said they are getting the flotilla ready and that there will be a ship from every country in Europe,” reported Voice of America. “Yildirim said the ‘Mavi Marmara’ from Turkey will be part of it, and until the blockade is lifted on Gaza, the intifada will continue by land, by sea and by air.”
The question, then, is this: If the IHH and its partners will behave exactly the same as last year, how will Israel respond?
“The Israelis will use different methods to bring the flotilla under control, or at least at minimum to prevent it from making it all the way to Gaza,” said James Colbert, policy director at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, in Washington, D.C.
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