The de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip conducted a media campaign to use the convoy as a lever to improve its image in international and Arab public opinion, defame Israel and exert pressure on it achieve a unilateral end to the so-called "siege" of the Gaza Strip. Convoy activists, especially those from the Arab-Muslim world, were included in ceremonies and events which were clearly Hamas-Islamist in character (On the other hand, the European members of the convoy, who were in the minority after the Middle East contingents arrived, made sure to keep a low media profile.)
The convoy activists met with senior Hamas figures, headed by Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration. During a sermon he called Israel ("the occupation") "a cancerous growth on the living body of the Arab nation" and emphasized that Palestine was and would remain Palestinian, Arab and Muslim.
On the evening October 22 a festive ceremony was held in honor of the convoy's participants at the Rashad al-Shawa Center in Gaza, attended by senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad figures. Convoy spokesman Zaher Birawi and Muhammad Sawalha (two Hamas activists living in Britain), as well as other activists, expressed their appreciation. The last speaker was Ismail Haniya, who welcomed the assembled audience and said that the arrival of the convoy was "a continuation of the Palestinian victory in Operation Cast Lead." He called it a historic moment, the end of the era in which Israel received international support. He appealed to members of the convoy and asked them to continue their actions until the "siege" was broken. He said it would be broken and that the "occupation" would end through the convoys and shaheeds (martyrs).
Members of the Turkish delegation, who did not reveal their organizational affiliations (in our assessment, most of them belonged to IHH), were taken by commanders of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to visit its positions. The PIJ's website posted pictures of the Turks, who joined PIJ operatives and were photographed with them holding weapons, wearing uniforms and decorated with PIJ headbands.
The visit to the Gaza Strip was used by the Turkish delegation to demonstrate solidarity with the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Delegation members were careful not to openly identify themselves to the media as belonging to IHH. However, before they left for the Middle East they were received by IHH head Bülent Yildirim, who during a ceremony in Istanbul called on Egypt to allow the convoy free entry.It's really touching how much compassion these "humanitarians" show for would-be genocidal terrorists.
Members of the Turkish delegation toured several Palestinian Islamic Jihad positions with commanders of the Jerusalem Battalions, the PIJ's military wing. During the tour one of the Turks said that Muslims (i.e., the PIJ) trusted them to struggle against "the criminal Zionist entity" and that he was proud to meet them. He said that the entire Turkish nation, like the Arabs and all Muslims, were praying for their victory and supported them (Jerusalem Battalions Ilam Ghaza forum, quoted by the official website of the Jerusalem Battalions, October 26,2010).
In addition to their statements, pictures were posted on the PIJ forum of members of the Turkish delegation wearing camouflage uniforms and headbands, and holding guns.
A ceremony to lay the corner stone for a hospital was held in the Jabaliya refugee camp, attended by senior Hamas figures and the Yemeni delegation (Hamas’ Paltoday website, October 24, 2010). One of the members of the Yemeni delegation was apparently Sheikh al-Idrisi, a member of the Al-Islah faction of the Yemeni Parliament and a Hamas supporter. He was aboard the Mavi Marmara and was photographed waving a large shabaria (dagger) (a picture which gained popularity). During his stay in the Gaza Strip he presented the shabaria, or a similar one, to Ismail Haniya.