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Monday, July 26, 2010

Lebanese "flotilla" might sail this week

Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has a brief paper that analyzes the latest on the Lebanese women's and reporters' ships that were supposed to have sailed a month ago. They agree with my reporting that Hezbollah is behind the ships and that the purpose of these ships may be to provoke a deadly Israeli response:

1. Yasser Qashlaq, chairman of the Free Palestine Movement and organizer of the Lebanese flotilla to the Gaza Strip, said the ships would leave within a few days. Qashlaq asked Lebanese politicians not to make difficulties, but rather to cooperate so the flotilla might succeed (DayPress news website, July 20, 2010). His previous declarations about its sailing were not realized, but nevertheless it is possible that this time the ships will set sail, despite a large number of international objections.
2. The current situation of the flotilla is as follows:
A. The ship called Maryam reached Tripoli and is currently participating in the routine processes required by law before a ship set sail. Rima Farah, ship spokesperson, said that contacts had been made with a number of countries to acquire authorization for the ship to be received at their harbors, because it cannot sail directly from Lebanon to the port of Gaza. Samar al-Hajj, coordinator for the organizing committee, is the director of the ship's logistic activities. Note: The ship will carry only women passengers (Al-Diyar website, July 21, 2010).
B. The ship called Nagi al-Ali (formerly Julia) is ready to set sail, and according to the organizers all that remains to be done is to load the cargo. Most of the passengers will apparently be correspondents.
C. The organizers may have another ship, but they are not divulging any information about it.
3. Yasser Qashlaq said he did not rule out the possibility that Israel would try to halt the flotilla because "there is no limit to the crimes of the entity of the occupation." He also said that there would be peace activists aboard the ships and that the cargos would include humanitarian equipment, and that any attempt to stop them would be "a terrorist action" (DayPress news website, July 20, 2010).
4. In our assessment, the ships were purchased and the flotilla organized with the involvement and support of Syria and Hezbollah, although both do not want to expose their roles and use organizations like the Free Palestine Movement as fronts for their activities.
5. Qashlaq revealed his position in an interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV on June 19, 2010. He said that "the day will come when the ships [which arrive at the Gaza Strip] will take the remainder of the European garbage which came to my country [i.e., Israel] back to their homelands, Gilad Shalit will return to Paris and they [the leaders of Israel will return to Poland. Let the murderers go home. After they return we will pursue them everywhere all over the world and try them in court for the slaughters they have carried out from Dir Yassin to this day."
6. Considering the stated positions of Qashlaq and some of those involved in the flotilla, and especially their close ties with Syria and Hezbollah, he apparently wants a violent confrontation between the passengers and the Israeli Air Force and Navy with a lot of media coverage. His intention is to defame Israel, even if his agenda is not necessarily that of the other passengers aboard the ships.
7. More proof that this flotilla, like that of the Mavi Marmara, is meant mainly to create a media circus and incite anti-Israeli propaganda, and not to bring humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip was made public by an Al-Jazeera TV investigative report.
8. The Al-Jazeera TV's Gaza Strip correspondent, revealed that the Gazans responsible for the ministry of health of the de facto Hamas administration were resentful because 70% of the medicines which arrived in the Gaza Strip from the aid convoys from various countries, especially Arab countries, could not be used. They were either unfit for use or their expiry dates had passed by months and sometimes years. They said that one of the convoys had brought dialysis machines which could not be used. The report was also quoted by a daily paper affiliated with the de facto Hamas administration (Al-Jazeera TV, July 20, 2010).
Al-Jazeera TV, July 20, 2010
Left: Useless dialysis machines. Right: Drugs whose expiry dates have passed
(Al-Jazeera TV, July 20, 2010).
(h/t Israel Matzav)