New flotilla for Gaza on deadly raid anniversary

7th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A new flotilla of ships will try to reach Gaza at the end of May to mark the first anniversary of deadly Israeli raid against a similar convoy that killed nine Turkish activists, organisers said Monday.

The flotilla that will try to break Israel's blockade of the territory this time will consist of around 15 boats with activists from 25 nations compared to just six ships last year, they told a news conference in Madrid.

"We will set sail during the second half of May," said Manuel Tapial, one of the three Spanish activists who were on board the Mavi Marmara which was intercepted by Israeli navy commandos on May 31 2010, sparking a global outcry.

Activists on board the Free Gaza Flotilla say the Israeli commandos started shooting as soon as they boarded the vessel.

But Israel says the commandos used live fire only after they were attacked with clubs, knives and guns.

Last month an Israeli probe into the incident concluded that both the raid and the blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory complied with international law.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the inquiry had neither value, nor credibility.

A Turkish investigation concluded Israeli troops had used "disproportionate" force during their raid, which took place in international waters about 130 kilometres (80 miles) from the Israeli coast.

The new convoy will transport construction material, electric generators and desalination plant to Gaza.

Maria Elena Delia of the Italian branch of "Sailing to Gaza", the nong-governmental organisation which is organising the new flotilla, called the Israeli blockade of Gaza "a crime and a violation of international law".

"We hope to break this blockade and if we can't, we will set sail again and again," she added.

© 2011 AFP

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