1. At the end of February 2011 preparations began in South Africa for an aid convoy to the Gaza Strip. The initiative was taken by two Muslim organizations operating in South Africa, the Al-Quds Foundation and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC). They have been joined by other Muslim organizations, radio stations, charity foundations and Muslim schools, colleges and universities in South Africa.
2. The convoy is supposed to reach the Gaza Strip overland, while its material humanitarian assistance is expected to be sent by sea. It plans to set out from Cape Town during the last week of June 2011 and pass through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, and from there to the Gaza Strip (See map on first page). Its humanitarian assistance will arrive by sea at an Egyptian port (in all likelihood El-Arish), where it will be collected by the convoy.
3. Two blatantly anti-Israeli Islamic organizations are behind the convoy:
1) The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), a member of the Union of Good1 (designated as a terrorism-supporting organization and outlawed by Israel and the United States), which unites dozens of Islamic organizations, funds and foundations to transfer money to Hamas.
2) The Al-Quds Foundation, the South African branch of the Al-Quds International Institute, an Arab-Muslim organization head by sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi which promotes the so-called Arab identity of Jerusalem.
4. One of the most prominent figures organizing the convoy is Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, MJC president and Al-Quds Foundation director. Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, gave Hendricks his blessing for the dispatch of the convoy. In addition, in January 2011 Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks met with senior IHH figures in Istanbul, who pledged their support to the convoy.
5. According to statements issued by the convoy, its objectives are to increase African public awareness of the condition of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, send the message of Islam and provide humanitarian assistance to the residents of the Gaza Strip. However, in reality, the organizers’ objectives are to defame Israel, contribute to the campaign to isolate it, create awareness for the Palestinian cause in South Africa and other African countries, and to demonstrate support for the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip.
6. This will be the first convoy from Africa (so far, flotillas and convoys have been sent to the Gaza Strip from Western and Asian countries). In our assessment, from the point of view of the convoy’s organizers, it has important propaganda value within the international campaign to delegitimize Israel. That is because of the South African nature of the convoy, which contributes to the campaign’s efforts to brand Israel as an “apartheid country.” Hamas is apparently also aware of that possibility, and as far as we know, Ismail Haniya and IHH members have encouraged anti-Israeli organizations in South Africa to dispatch the convoy
7. Of note are the following:
1) Timing: The convoy is supposed to leave Cape Town at the end of June 2011 and reach the Gaza Strip for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (August). If the time table does not change, the convoy will pass through Africa at about the same time as the ships of the Freedom Fleet 2 flotilla leave Europe (if it does in fact leave as planned). That will provide the convoy with additional media coverage.
2) Passage through Sudan: The convoy is supposed to pass through Sudan and from there to proceed to Egypt and the Gaza Strip. While we have no definite information, it is entirely possible that as the convoy passes through Sudan extremist elements will join it, or it may be exploited by Hamas to smuggle weapons and/or operatives into the Gaza Strip, exploiting the network of Hamas’ supporters in Sudan.
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