ISTANBUL – The Turkish organisation IHH (Foundation for Humanitarian Relief), which organized one of the ships in the aid convoy to Gaza, and which was attacked by Israel today, has two faces: aid organisation and friend of extremists. In Turkey it is mainly supported by conservative Muslims.
IHH, founded in 1992, is one of the biggest and best known aid organisations in Turkey. Recently they offered help to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. On the other hand they are not secretive about their ties to extremist Hamas, which governs Gaza: IHH supports them financially. In Turkey the support is shown through, for example, exhibitions, information meetings, and the publication of books about the situation in Gaza (but not about the problems in other Palestinian areas). The ship that is now in the aid convoy, and which left Antalya on the Turkish south coast last week, brings both faces of IHH together.
Almost fifteen years ago there was a criminal investigation into IHH in Turkey: the organisation was allegedly involved in supplying weapons to Muslim terrorists. In the end this didn’t lead to a ban on the organisation. In aid for disasters in Turkey, like earthquakes, IHH has been kept at a distance ever since.
Written for news agency ANP. The hard news about Israel attacking the convoy, as far as it related to Turkey, was covered not by me but by international agencies, like Reuters and AP, with which ANP cooperates.