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Turkish group may quit Gaza flotilla

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Turkish organization in charge of a massive flotilla to Gaza may cancel its plans to set sail.

The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper Wednesday that it is considering canceling the flotilla plans because of the unrest in the region, particularly in Syria. Israel considers IHH a terrorist organization.

The IHH has refurbished the Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish activists were killed during a confrontation with Israeli Navy commandos during last year’s Gaza flotilla, and planned to use it in this summer’s flotilla. 

Other groups scheduled to take part in the flotilla reportedly have not changed their plans. Israel has called on the countries from which the flotilla ships originate to halt their participation.

Some 22 ships are set to meet in international waters near Cyprus and sail to Gaza next month. Activists say they are carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel argues that it is allowing all necessary supplies into Gaza and that the flotilla is not necessary. The Gaza port is not equipped to offload cargo from ships, Ynet reported.

The flotilla and others like it are designed to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Israeli officials have said they will not allow the ships to run the blockade. 

Israel’s Navy was scheduled to run a training exercise Wednesday on methods of intercepting and boarding large ships.

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