Because nothing says cease-fire like running a blockade, right? The Erdogan government in Ankara has given its blessing to a repeat of the 2010 attempt to break through the Israeli embargo on Gaza — prompted by Hamas’ importation of thousands of rockets that are currently raining on Israel — which resulted in an IDF raid that killed nine and heightened tensions in the region. The Israelis have reacted cautiously so far, in part because there is no flotilla to send … yet:
Amid Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas attacks from Gaza, a “Freedom Flotilla” is being organized in Turkey to bring humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave with the protection of the Turkish military, according to an unconfirmed media report.
The flotilla, called “Freedom Flotilla II,” is being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the same organization that was behind the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010.
Turkey wants to join the EU, but Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it a lot more difficult by dropping the modernist mask:
Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser on Islamic affairs in the office of the American secretary of defense, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday that the real issue in the ongoing conflict is that Turkey and Qatar are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in their goals.
“[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood long before he was prime minister,” Rhode said.
It should now be clear to all that Erdogan “is now out of the bag,” Rhode said, adding that US President Barack Obama does not speak to the Turkish leader anymore despite previously describing him as one of his closest friends among the world’s leaders.
It’s also bad timing for the US and UN, which has been attempting to pressure both sides into a cease fire:
International efforts to end the devastating three-week-old Gaza war intensified Monday with the U.N. Security Council calling for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” in the conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,035 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers.
The ravaged coastal enclave was relatively quiet Monday as Palestinians started celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Israel mostly held its fire overnight, shelling only a site in the northern Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from there. The Israeli military said, however, that it would continue to destroy underground tunnels that militants had dug to try and infiltrate Israeli territory.
Israel says that the cease-fire can be unlimited. All that’s necessary is for Hamas to stop firing missiles, and Israel will stop firing back, although Israel now insists that they will stay to destroy the tunnels that lead into Israel regardless of any cease-fire:
As international pressure mounted to end a 21-day conflict in which more than 1,000 people have been killed, an Israeli military official said the army would only respond to attacks for an indefinite period.”The situation now is an unlimited truce,” Israel’s chief military spokesman,
Brigadier General Motti Almoz, told Israel Radio. “The IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) is free to attack after any fire if there is any.” …
Israeli troops meanwhile continued to hunt and destroy cross-border militant tunnels inside Gaza, and it was not clear if Hamas was ready to agree to a prolonged pause.
A single rocket was fired out of the battered coastal territory at the Israeli city of Ashkelon in the first nine hours of Monday, according to the Israeli military, which said it struck two rocket launchers and a weapon manufacturing site in the northern and central Gaza strip.
Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the more formal UN proposal, also pushed by the US, in rather strong terms in a call with Ban Ki-moon earlier today:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday slammed aUN Security Council statement calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, saying during a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the statement addresses the needs of a murderous terrorist organization, but not those of Israel.
The statement, he said, does not address Israel’s demands for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, a principle already established by previous interim agreements with the Palestinians.
“The statement did not deal with the harm done to Israeli civilians, nor to the fact that Hamas turned Gaza civilians into human shields,” he said. Netanyahu, who met Ban in Jerusalem last week, also complained that the statement made no mention of the fact that Hamas used UN facilities to attack Israeli civilians.
Israel accepted a UN request for a humanitarian cease-fire three times, he said, while Hamas violated each one.
“They are continuing to fire even now at Israel citizens,” he said. “Israel will continue to deal with the terror tunnels, which is only the first step in demilitarization.”
Netanyahu wants the UN to focus on demilitarization of Gaza, which may be a little difficult to accomplish while the world sends rockets and missiles to Hamas, and while Hamas uses the concrete sent to Gaza as humanitarian supplies to build tunnels for terrorism instead. Turkey wants to break through the Israeli embargo to prevent Hamas from gaining arms, which tells us pretty much everything we need to know about Erdogan and his approach to Middle East peace. Maybe the UN, and especially NATO, should have a long and pointed chat with Turkey’s PM about Freedom Flotilla II and the inadvisability of throwing gasoline on flames.