April 7, 2011 - 12:00am

A Turkish human rights organization said here on Thursday that it is organizing another Gaza flotilla of more than 20 ships as the anniversary for the first ill-fated voyage on May 31 approaches.

The IHH Human Rights Foundation which organized last year's flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters killing 9, is in the planning stage of a second larger flotilla.

IHH board member Huseyin Oruc told Xinhua that currently there are activists from more than 20 countries interested in participating.

He listed Spain, France, Italy, the United States, Britain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Ireland along with Malaysia and some Gulf countries. Ships will depart from each country and meet up in the Mediterranean before heading for Gaza.

With around 20 ships, seating is limited and Oruc expected about 2,000 activists this time, compared to a little over 700 in 2010.

However, he added, "our phones have been ringing with calls from around the world asking for seats on the ships. There are tens of thousands who have already requested seating."

The reason for the voyage is the same as last year, that the embargo in place in Gaza is not legitimate and illegal. He cited the UN reports which refer to the embargo as "not legitimate and not sustainable."

There is also talk of hiring a plane to join the 2nd Gaza flotilla. "Just as this illegitimate embargo needs to be broken on land and sea, it is also important to break it by air as well," he said.

As for whether they're prepared in case Israel strikes out again as they did last year, Oruc said that they cannot really be prepared for that risk.

However, Israel's action last year caused so much controversy, and caused such international public fury, "we are thinking that Israel won't make the same mistake again."

Meanwhile, Israel has been contacting countries where the ships are going to take off, asking that the governments try to dissuade their citizens from participating in the event.


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