For a while it seemed afloat but only momentarily before this fleet floundered, most notably at the port of Greece. Here it underwent what was considered a form of sabotage akin to that afflicted by Israel last time round (see our photo-gallery flotilla review) but this time in the form of Greece's over-zealous and probably illegal paperwork and security check facade- saving Israel the trouble of later intercepting this fleet of activists or as it termed them 'provocateurs' which may have resulted in more than just a beareaucratic injury to the crews, given last year's bloody boat scenario.
Scuppering Aspiring Sailors who refuse the tag of failed mission
Last time, May 2010, Turkey was caught up in a naval tussle with Israel, when the flotilla expedition that disembarked from its shores, and sailing under its flag, was not only not made welcome in Israel but was attacked and suffered 9 fatalities. Turkey was less than pleased and for a while fuming at Israel's hostile response to its sea charity work. But now. the Greeks and Turks have never quite seen eye to eye and inevitably have played things differently.
Greeks show-down with the Turks
Greece has banned all boats in the Gaza Flotilla from leaving port. Greek authorities cite security concerns, given last year’s raids by Israeli forces on a similar flotilla.
Greece has acted the proxy Israel, screening these boats for 'security' and thwarting their pro-Pal (Palestine) mission in polar contrats to the Turkish side stance last year. This said, Turkey who was tangibly missing from this year's boat protest -- IHH - the proudly Hamas-affiliated group from last year's tragic flotilla meltdown chose not to sail this year-- is on a bid to mend diplomatic ties with israel- historically a firm ally. They woudn't let a flotilla come between years of friendship would they? Nor would they wish to let former and long-standing foe Greece get all the good-guy-kudos.
The Greeks' behaviour has not escaped Turkey's notice and has resulted in a form of bidding war between the two leaders to help Israel flop the flotilla. As a senior IDF officer told the Jewish Chronicle this week: "We will make peace with the Palestinians long before the Greeks and Turks resolve their differences."
For the last fortnight, a fleet of 10 boats (4 up on last year's 6 boat fleet) attempted a mission to symoblically challenge the blockade Israel has sustained for 5 years in a gesture of charity, peace and a delivery of goods and supplies, letters, and above all a show of solidarity with the Palestinian 'prisoners' people's plight.
Until 10 July the Canadian big gun boat the Tahrir was still fit and fighting, now retired together with the bulk of the rest first to fall out was the American effort in the Audacity of Hope. By Monday this week, all but 2 had effectively sunk- 2 boats remained, a French one and a Swedish-Norwegian-Greek ship. By Tuesday one boat was said to be still moored under Greece's strict watch.
By Tuesday this week, reports of another forced retiree were awash, while today there are still probably futile negotiations in place to keep or indeed set the last boat afloat. If it can liberate itself from Greece's red-taped clutch.
By now the mission is all but fizzled out after some of the fleet floundered and fought nobly before their crew either gave up and returned to land life, and jobs whose leave had run its course. These retiring delegates to a somehow failed mission, left on the promise this was not the last we'd seen of them and that they'd be back. It looked they'd been beaten by a series of bureaucratic and petty-paper legislation and an aggressive campaign of distortion, disinformation and sabotage mounted by Israel and its network, that may have scuppered the sailings, but not the sailor spiritis! These were far from brow-beaten as they celebrated the attention they had commanded and their public barring from the legitimate use of international waters or clear passage to depart a country's shores. The bending of universal naval law in the name of siding with Israel. For Israel even the 'free high seas' mantra was contravened
If not Flotilla, then "Flytilla"
Quite a fiasco has ensued on this round of flotilla drama, with protests aimed at the Greeks ensuing world-wide, and bouyed up by inspiration from an Arab Spring-turned Summer. When additional supporters fo the fleet and cause decided to look to the skies for clear passage instead - forging an Aerial Flotilla of sorts, termed Flytilla in honour of the sea fleet pioneers- and were foiled by air too by the influence of Israeli comandeering of ocean and sky!- that was when they actually felt vindicated in their mission for the public exposure they had caused Israel.
Though it may seem as if the Palestinian solidarity movement suffered a dent and a sinking, it is actually Israel that was harshly beaten here, for Israel has managed to expose its level of hysteria: it seems that under 10 tatty yachts and a few hundred no frill air passengers have got Israel out of sorts and clamoring to manipulate international air and sea law- as always, heavy-handed reactions (perhaps not bloody but stridently intolerant and paranoid).
Say the activists and supporters, "Both the Flotilla and the Flytilla are exemplary cases of ‘civil society campaigns’-- they were intended to mobilise international public support using peaceful and democratic means."
Israealis even suggested that these Palestinian supporters find some other Arab cause to adopt: since so many around. Israeli anti-demonstrator Michelle Marshalian, apparently unaffected by the beefed-up police presence at Ben-Gurion airport, Tel Aviv, held a sign urging protesters to go instead to Syria, Libya and other Arab states roiled by revolts.