Turkish group cites 'technical reasons' for decision not to partake in next Strip-bound sail. Other vessels to sail as scheduled
The Turkey-based IHH group, considered the driving force behind the Gaza flotilla announced Friday its ship the Mavi Marmara will not be taking part in the Strip-bound sail.
IHH Chairman Bolant Yilderim called a press conference and told reporters that "due to technical problems, the Mavi Marmara will not sail this time and we are deeply sorry for that."
The international vessel convoy, which currently consists of 10 ships, will sail to Gaza nonetheless, he added, saying that the fact that the sail will be devoid of the Marmara would negate the notion that the flotilla was an "Islamist idea by Turkey."
The planned flotilla has been hit by setbacks as organizers have been finding it hard to meet their goal in regards to the number of ships participating in the sail; as well as calls from the UN and the Turkish government to cancel or postpone the planned sail.
The IHH, which organized the first Gaza flotilla, is heavily involved in the second sail, alongside the "Free Gaza" Movement" and the "European Campaign." These three are joined by several smaller groups, which are trying to stage a united international front.
Israeli expatriate Dror Feiler, who is a spokesman for the organizers' European base, also said that the rest of the fleet will sail as planned.
"We aim to reach Gaza. We have no violent intentions. We just want to lift the illegal blockade of Gaza once and for all."
On Wednesday, the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet" reported that the IHH is considering canceling the flotilla following "regional developments," particularly in Syria.
"We think we can achieve our goals regardless of whether we send the Marmara ship to Gaza or not."