The Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ferry heading to break the Gaza blockade, in which 9 activists were killed, is turning out a week later to have kicked off a semi-clandestine sea war between Israel, Turkey and the Gaza-based Hamas, debkafile's military sources report. Monday, June 7, Hamas frogmen were on their way to a large-scale attack on an Israeli target when their boat was intercepted by Israeli commandos and four or five armed Palestinians killed. Turkey is investigating suspicions of Israel's hand behind a deadly Kurdish terrorist attack on its Iskenderun base on May 31.
Our military sources disclose Iskenderun's quietly growing role in the last two months as a military hub in potential confrontations by Syria and Hizballah with Israel. In mid-May, Turkey moved anti-air missile batteries into the port to defend targets in Syria and Lebanon against potential Israeli air strikes from the eastern Mediterranean. This is the first time Ankara has provided Syria and Hizballah with an air defense umbrella and come down on their side in their conflict with Israel.
Some hours after Israeli commandos clashed with armed men aboard the Mavi Marmara, Kurdish PKK rebel fighters attacked the Turkish naval base at Iskenderun on the Syrian border, killing seven Turkish seamen and injuring another six. If Ankara can prove its suspicions, it will be able to claim that Israel is involved by proxy in terrorist attacks on Turkish soil. Diplomatic relations still in force despite the frictions between the two countries will then be severed, one step before a declaration of war.
Following the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's fiery abuse of Israel, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said Sunday, June 6: "We have been working hard, especially to ascertain what happened in the Iskenderun incident." Local media have suggested he is looking for Israeli covert invovlement in the planning and execution of the deadly attack on the Turkish naval base in revenge for the violence on the Marmara against the Israeli naval boarding party.
Early Monday, June 7, an Israeli Navy Commando force intercepted a large group of armed Palestinian frogmen, members of the Hamas sea commando, on their way from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli shore to the north early Monday, June 7. Palestinian sources confirmed at least four wet-suited terrorists were killed, and another four were missing in the wake of a shootout in the Nahal Aza area of the Gaza Strip near Nuseirat between their boat and Israeli troops.
The IDF spokesman reported there were no Israeli casualties. debkafile's military sources report the Hamas seaborne unit aimed to prove itself capable by striking an Israeli target of retaliating for the thwarting of the Turkish-led campaign to break the Gaza blockade.
Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian Qassam missile squad was spotted on land near Jebalya preparing to fire into Israel. It was knocked out by the Israeli Air force.
debkafile: Cross-fire from Gaza on Israeli border patrols is frequent, almost daily and Hamas still launches several Qassam missiles and mortar bombs into Israel every week, but attempts attacks by Hamas or related groups from the sea are a new development.