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Tuesday, May 31, 2011     GET REAL

Hamas naval exercise simulates Israeli interception of Gaza flotilla

GAZA CITY — For the first time, Hamas conducted a naval exercise meant to foil a sea blockade by Israel.


Officials said the Hamas military conducted an exercise in late May to help protect any flotilla to the Gaza Strip. They said the exercise was based in the port south of Gaza City and simulated an Israeli interception of a Turkish-flagged flotilla.

"The purpose of the exercise was to respond to any Israeli aggression," an official said.

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[On May 31, a bombing at a southern Gaza training camp killed three fighters of the Popular Resistance Committees, Middle East Newsline reported. The Hamas regime has confirmed the blast and said another four people were injured.]

The Hamas exercise was conducted by members of its naval commando force. Officials said the exercise simulated an Israel Navy interception of a flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea, scheduled to arrive in mid-June.

The naval exercise divided troops into a blue Hamas force and a red Israeli force. Soldiers dressed as Israeli commandos intercepted a Turkish ship and threw those who resisted into the sea.

In response, Hamas naval officers and divers rescued those hurled from the Turkish vessel. Physicians were on alert at the port to provide treatment.

Turkey is said to have helped Hamas in methods to facilitate the forthcoming flotilla. Ankara has threatened Israel not to attempt to intercept the flotilla as in the bloody operation in May 2010, in which nine passengers were killed in a clash with Israeli commandos.

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