The Flotila business continues to be in the news – so lets update you on the latest from the many different angles.
Right now it appears that the Lebanese Government is actually trying to take steps to ease tensions with Israel (and perhaps other western powers) by trying to find a way to block the departure of one of the next boats with the intention of sailing to Gaza.
According to reports from Lebanon, one of the ships is set to sail from Tripoli towards Gaza. It is said to be laden with humanitarian aid. The ship, with it's female activists from Lebanon and abroad onboard, is still awaiting permission from the authorities to sail.
In the Israeli press it has been nicknamed the Syrian flotilla – Syrian because it is being reported that President Assad's (of Syria) cousin is one of the owners of the ship.
Here in Israel, border police (a para-military force) personnel are training in what is being touted as non-violent seizure methods of the “women's ship” in order to prevent an outcome like three weeks ago – that could erupt things into a regional conflict.
And since we mention the region, earlier in the month the Iranian Red Crescent announced its plan to dispatch two ships to Gaza, carrying humanitarian aid. The reports are that the expected Iranian 'aid' ship, the “Iran Shahed”, has now left the port of Bandar Abbas. A loose translation of the word “Shahed” is “mayrter”.
Some in Israel are advocating the reproaching of Turkey for their involvement in the diplomatic process so as to transform it from, what is currently understood as, an opposing entity – to one that is involved. The goal here is to take the antagonistic diplomacy away from concentrating upon Israel.
As I reported yesterday on Harvest, an Arab initiative encouraged by Syria and Iran at the UN is underway by Malaysia, to arrange an emergency meeting on the Gaza blockade and flotilla incident.
Israel has worked, with it's latest measures, to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip. It's concentrating its efforts on reducing the International pressure to lift the naval blockade because it is vital to it's security to keep it in place in order to prevent weapon materials from reaching Hamas. By giving up on the prohibition of goods into Gaza that lack any military value, Israel hopes to in fact strengthen it's grip on the strip and justify, via the international observers handling the materials crossings, it's assertion of Iranian and Syrian influence upon Hamas.
Middle East Correspondent