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Turkish Ships Join International Aid Flotilla to Gaza Strip

In this image taken from the Free Gaza Movement website 28 May 2010, one of the Turkish ships taking part in the 'Freedom Flotilla' is seen docked prior to heading for the shores off the Gaza Strip in this recent but undated photo

Turkish ships, carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians, are joining the eight-ship flotilla bound for Gaza despite Israeli warnings of preventing the international ship convoy to enter the Gaza border.

One of the many humanitarian workers on board three Turkish ships is Zehra Ozturk. Hulya Polat of the VOA Turkish Service spoke with Ms. Ozturk Friday about where the ships are and how they feel about their mission to Gaza.

"Now we are in the southwestern part of Cyprus Sea and we have a small flotilla of ships here and we are waiting for other ships," she said. "We have more than 60 people on the ship at the moment, and all of the people on the ship are really very much focused on going to Gaza. Of course, they want to support their sisters and brothers in Gaza, as you know."

"There is an international embargo on Gaza and the humanitarian situation is really, really difficult in Gaza. And this ship, that we are in, is full of humanitarian aid materials composed of medical, medicine, construction material and very, very much essential needs for Gazan people. The sail is going really well, everyone is helping each other, teasing, singing and making [unintelligible] for Gazan people. And the atmosphere here is really quite good," she added.

In light of threats from the Israelis to block the flotilla of ships, Zehra Ozturk says she and her fellow pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey are not thinking about a blockade. They remain focused on their mission to take aid to Gaza.

"We have only one aim. This is to enter Gaza, to take the aid to Gaza," she said. "There’s some, new some explanation that Israel will stop us. We are ready for difficulties and we know these difficulties. But we know the international law, we are in the international water."

"And according to Geneva Convention no one has the right to stop us to go to Gaza. For this reason we hope will be able to go to Gaza. Everyone in the ship - NGOs, members of parliament, writers, academics, ordinary people, everyone in the ship are thinking the same idea and really focused on entering Gaza," she continued.