Istanbul: A Turkish aid group said yesterday it would again send ships to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, four years after Israeli commandos stormed its flotilla bound for the Palestinian territory and killed 10 Turks.
The plan looked set to throw a fresh obstacle in the way of efforts to rebuild shattered diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel, just as Ankara launches an "air corridor" carrying wounded Palestinians to Turkey and aid to Gaza.
Three Palestinian women and a male youth were flown from Tel Aviv to Ankara overnight for medical treatment after Turkey held talks on the matter with Israel, the first step of Ankara's bid to evacuate possibly thousands from the Gaza Strip.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu revealed details of the aid initiative last week after a month of bloodshed that has killed 1,910 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
But any goodwill generated by the move could be jeopardised by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) announcement that a coalition of pro-Palestinian activists from 12 countries had decided to launch a convoy "in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza".
"The Freedom Flotilla Coalition affirmed that, as most governments are complicit, the responsibility falls on civil society to challenge the Israeli blockade on Gaza," it said in a statement after the group met in Istanbul at the weekend.
An IHH spokeswoman did not elaborate. The group will hold a news conference today, she said.
Nine Turks died in May 2010 in international waters after Israeli soldiers raided their vessel, the Mavi Marmara, leading a flotilla to break Israel's seven-year blockade of Gaza. A 10th Turkish activist died in May from wounds suffered in the attack.