Israel stops flotilla seeking to break Gaza blockade

Updated 30 June 2015

Israel stops flotilla seeking to break Gaza blockade

ASHDOD, Israel: Israel’s navy on Monday halted a flotilla seeking to defy its blockade of Gaza without the deadly force that marred a similar attempt in 2010 and was escorting one of the vessels to shore. Among the passengers on the commandeered ship were Tunisia’s former President Moncef Marzouki and Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas.
A flotilla of four boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists had been seeking to reach Gaza to highlight the Israeli blockade of the territory that they called “inhumane and illegal.” Three of the boats were said to have turned back while a fourth, the Marianne of Gothenburg, was boarded by the Israeli navy and was being escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The activists’ campaign came as Israel faced heavy international pressure over its actions in Gaza, with a UN report last week saying both the Jewish state and Palestinian fighters may have committed war crimes during a 50-day conflict in the besieged coastal enclave last summer.
The reconstruction of thousands of homes in Gaza destroyed during the fighting between Israel and Hamas, the territory’s de facto rulers, is yet to begin, and both Israel’s blockade and a lack of support from international donors have been blamed.
After the overnight operation to stop the flotilla, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the navy’s actions and insisted his government was right to take action against Hamas.


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 14 October 2019

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.