Israel has been working behind the scenes to divert the ships that are sailing towards Gaza as part of a new flotilla, set to arrive in Israel next week, charged activists involved in the project.
On the way already is Swedish ship Marianne, which recently anchored in Italy, with several other ships set to sail from Greece to join her. From there the ships plan to continue as a unified group towards Gaza, where they intend to confront the Israeli Navy – potentially with lethal force as was seen in the 2010 flotilla.
Some 70 activists are waiting to board the ships in Greece, Israel Hayom reported Thursday. The report said that rough seas have kept the ships in port longer than expected, but activists said that Israel was “working around the clock” to keep the ships from sailing.
Among those steps, they claimed, was diplomatic activity to pressure Greece to deport the activists, most of whom are from other countries in Europe and from Turkey, as well as attempts to prevent the ships from sailing by damaging their engines or other essential components.
Meanwhile, Arab MK Bassal Ghattas still plans to join the flotilla. Speaking to Army Radio Wednesday night, Gattas said the flotilla “was peaceful. There will be no violence, there are no weapons on the ships. What they are carrying is essential medical equipment needed in Gaza, but it is just a drop in the ocean of what the hospitals there need.”
Ghattas said that his participation in the flotilla was “not meant to challenge Israel's sovereignty. Israel does not have sovereignty over the waters off Gaza. This is not an issue of power politics or of politics at all. I am going to Gaza, not against the State of Israel."
"As an elected official of the State, I see it as my job to take responsibility for an issue like this. The question is where are the other MKs in the United Arab List," Ghattas added.