JERUSALEM, Israel - Last week, the Turkish "humanitarian" relief organization IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) announced it was withdrawing from this year's Gaza-bound flotilla. But, the remaining participants say they'll set sail as planned.
By their own admission, the goal of the "Freedom Flotilla Two" organizers is not to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza residents -- who receive some 50,000 tons of goods biweekly -- but to provoke another incident to demonize Israel.
"Despite claims that the flotilla is not needed because 'Rafah [border crossing with Egypt] is now open,' the Gaza [SIC] are still trapped and suffocated by Israel's cruel blockade," The Free Gaza Movement stated on its website.
The International Red Cross said "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza" and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called on world leaders to "use their influence to discourage such flotillas."
Over the weekend, Israel Navy Commander Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom echoed Ban's words, calling on the international community to do its part to stop the "provocative flotilla."
"A flotilla driven by hate has recently been organizing in an attempt to reach Gaza's shore with a clear intent to come to a confrontation with IDF troops. This is a flagrant attempt to delegitimize Israel and create a PR stunt," Marom said.
The naval chief of staff pointed out that increasing numbers of international leaders have agreed there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
"Recent statements by a number of figures in the international community have called on the organizers to cancel the flotilla while clarifying that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is nonexistent, and that all supplies may enter Gaza via the land crossings in a coordinated manner," Marom said.
While the Israeli Navy prepares for any eventuality, efforts to prevent the flotilla from sailing continue on both sides of the ocean.
In Manhattan, attorneys for Chicago-based biologist Dr. Alan Bauer filed a civil lawsuit in Federal Court against 14 vessels signed up for the expedition. Baker and his son, Jonathan, were seriously injured in a 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The suit cites an 18th-century U.S. statute that permits the private seizure of ships to be used against a U.S. ally.
Bauer's legal team, attorneys Robert J. Tolchin of New York, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder of Shurat HaDin -- the Israel Law Center -- said the flotilla's sponsors raised support from U.S.-based anti-Israel groups, such as the Free Gaza Movement, among others.
Tolchin said the flotilla's organizers and ship owners should be held "accountable for the damages and deaths they cause," The Jerusalem Post reported.
"This lawsuit will bring judgment to people who have until now ignored the law," Tolchin said. "Each flotilla ship is an attack on Israel and thus a slap in the face to the United States and every other nation that is at peace with Israel," Tolchin said.
In Israel, Shurat HaDin has been notifying international insurance and satellite providers of potential lawsuits associated with the flotilla.
Lloyds of London decided not to provide maritime insurance to ships taking part in the flotilla, the group reported on its website.
Last year, INMARSAT, a global satellite company, provided satellite communications service to the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara. This year, Shurat HaDin warned they could be liable for providing communication services to ships funded by terror organizations.
In last year's incident, nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed when navy commandoes were forced to defend themselves from passengers brandishing knives, chains, and clubs, who attacked them as they attempted to board the ship.