Bringing matters to a headIsrael-Iran confrontation looms as Iranians set to challenge Gaza blockade with aid ships

Published 7 June 2010

The Iranian Red Crescent has said it will send three aid ships to Gaza, plus an aid cargo plane to Egypt, as it joins the efforts to defy Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip; Iran’s leaders said they would send the Iranian navy to accompany the ships; an aid ship from Iran was prevented from reaching Gaza in 2008.

Israeli patrol ships returning to port at Ashdod // Source:

Matters are coming to a head in the Middle East. The confrontation — direct confrontation — between Israel and Iran, a confrontation which was supposed to be initiated by an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, may occur sooner as a result of Iran more openly involving itself in the Gaza situation.

The Iranian Red Crescent said that it will send three aid ships to Gaza in the latest bid to break the blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory by Israel. It will also send a plane carrying 30 tons of medical equipment to Egypt for onward delivery to Gaza.

France24 reports that Red Crescent director for international affairs Abdolrauf Adibzadeh told Iranian media that two ships would leave for Gaza this week, followed at a later date by a third vessel.

The first two ships will head to Gaza in coordination with the Turkish government. Of the two ships, “one will carry 70 aid workers such as nurses and medics and the other will have foodstuffs and medicines,” Adibzadeh was quoted as saying on the state television website.

The (two) ships will be sent to Gaza by end of this week,” Adibzadeh told the state IRNA news agency.

The news agency said the third vessel would be equipped with an onboard operating theatre and would head for the Palestinian territory at a later date.

Adibzadeh said the Red Crescent has called for Iranian volunteers to act as relief workers and accompany the first two vessels. “Volunteers who want to go to Gaza and help the oppressed people of occupied Palestine can refer to the Red Crescent website and register,” he said.

He said an aid plane would “leave in a short time for Egypt in coordination with the Egyptian Red Crescent.”

The Iranian Red Crescent had previously sent an aid ship carrying food and medicines to Gaza in December 2008 but it was prevented from reaching the territory by the Israeli navy.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said such aid ships were symbols of the “protest movement against the blockade.”

If this symbolic campaign continues, it will result in the surrender of the Zionist regime, which will certainly be one of its biggest defeats,” the state television website quoted him as saying.

The decision to send new aid to Gaza comes hot on the heels of a report that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards had expressed readiness to escort aid flotillas to Gaza.

If the respected leader of