Iranian Ships Prepare To Set Sail For Gaza Strip

Even as the UN is formalizing its response to Iran, the Persian Gulf country is preparing to set sail three ships with aid for the Gaza Strip, AFP reported earlier and was cited by the Jerusalem Post. The ships are only awaiting for final permission from the Iranian Foreign Ministry, without regard for Israel's potential retaliation should Iranian ships approach Israel territorial waters. And with over 100,000 Iranians having volunteered to sail onboard, this will unlikely be diffused with mere diplomacy. At least some of the escalation rhetoric this weekend was slightly moderated after Haaretz refuted an earlier report by the Times of London that Saudi Arabia has opened up an air corridor for an Israel strike is false: "Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi envoy to the U.K. speaking to the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, denied that report, saying such a move "would be against the policy adopted and followed by the Kingdom." As for the Iranian overture, the piece de resistance is that Iran will also send a plane to Egypt, carrying 30 tons of medical aid, and forcing the involvement of even more third party actors who would certainly prefer to be impartial in this very unstable time. Once again, Gulf (the other Gulf) tensions are escalating, and there seems nothing on the horizon to set anyone's mind at ease. But somehow headlines about the return of the global recovery are once again making the rounds.

From the Jerusalem Post:

The Iranian Red Crescent has equipped and loaded two ships with aid, and is waiting for permission from the Iranian Foreign Ministry to set sail for Gaza, AFP reported on Sunday. A third ship is planned for next week.

An Iranian Red Crescent official, Mojtaba Majd,  was quoted as saying that over 100,000 Iranians have volunteered to sail on the ships. He said that the problems involved may prevent Iran from sending volunteers, however "the important issue is that the people of Gaza know that more than 100,000 Iranians are ready to come to their help."

One of the ships, which is carrying food and medicine is expected to leave this week.  The Red Crescent has promised to send two ships by Friday and a third next week.

A plane is also planned to fly to Egypt carrying 30 tons of medical aid.

The Iranian decision to send ships to Gaza, follows the international outrage over the Israeli commando raid on the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla seeking to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

An Iranian Red Crescent ship was sent to Gaza during 'Operation Cast Lead' but was turned back by Israeli warships.

Elsewhere, Israel appears also very close to worsening its diplomatic relationship with long-term ally Germany, after NPR reported that an alleged Israel spy believed to be related to a Hamas leader killing in Dubai earlier this year, using the name Uri Brodsky, has been arrested in Poland.  "Brodsky was arrested in early June upon his arrival in Poland because of a European arrest warrant issued by Germany which is now seeking his extradition, the spokesman said, declining to be named in line with department policy."

The German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that the arrest in Poland already has led to some diplomatic friction. The Israeli Embassy has urged Polish authorities not to extradite Brodsky, the magazine reports in its issue to be published Monday.

Germany's Foreign Ministry had no comment on the case and referred to an ongoing judicial investigation by the federal prosecutor's office. The country's top investigating unit deals with all cases affecting internal or external security, including terrorism or espionage.

After a German passport was used by a person linked to the Dubai slaying, the prosecutor's office in February started investigating a possible connection to a foreign intelligence agency.

Authorities in the western city of Cologne had issued a passport to a man named Michael Bodenheimer. A man using that name was among the assassins who killed the Hamas operative, according to Dubai police.

In February, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged a thorough investigation and said German authorities would do everything possible to support their counterparts in the UAE.

If Brodsky's extradition goes through, however, it could put the government in Berlin — a staunch Israeli ally — in a difficult diplomatic position.