While the IDF continued Wednesday to track the Iranian ships en route to the Gaza Strip, the Navy was put on high alert amid fears that another flotilla would be launched from Lebanon, leaving – due to the short distance – little time to stop it.
A cargo ship left Iran earlier this week and is expected to try and break the Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza as early as the weekend.
Navy braces for next flotillas
Another ship is scheduled to join at the beginning of next week. The IDF is closely tracking the ships but is particularly concerned about the possibility that a number of ships will set sail from Lebanon, possibly even with Hizbullah operatives aboard.
“There is not a lot of time to stop fast ships that come from Lebanon,” an IDF officer explained, “Practically, it means that the Navy has to be on high alert around the clock.”
The Navy will likely first try to stop the ships by calling on them to stop at sea and far from the Gaza coast.
This worked successfully during Operation Cast Lead when an Iranian ship tried breaking the siege but was turned back by the Navy without boarding. If this fails, the Navy has prepared Flotilla 13, known as the Shayetet, to head up an operation like it did two weeks ago in stopping the international aid flotilla from Turkey.
Meanwhile, Bulent Yildirim, head of the Turkish organization IHH which was behind the last flotilla stopped by Israel, announced on Wednesday that his organization would send six more ships to Gaza in July. He said that the family members of the nine Turks killed on board the Mavi Marmara passenger ship have requested to join the next IHH flotilla.
Also Wednesday, the International Red Cross distanced itself from the Iranian flotilla, which is reportedly being organized by the Iranian Red Crescent. The Iranian boats, the ICRC said, were from the International Red Crescent, which is a different organization.