GEORGE Galloway lost his seat in Parliament at the recent general election and his Respect party is no long represented in the House of Commons. Perhaps this will give him more time to organise one of his land convoys with humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza. He has competition. There are reports of a flotilla of eight boats due to leave a Turkish port very soon and head for Gaza City. They will carry thousands of tons of essential supplies and the construction materials which Israel will not allow through its land checkpoints into Gaza. Also on board will be some 700-800 activists from various countries ready to give a helping hand to the citizens of Gaza.

Israel has said that the flotilla will not be allowed inside the 20-mile exclusion zone which it maintains along the Gaza coast. The United Nations representative in Gaza has given his support to the flotilla, pointing out that more than three-quarters of the damage inflicted on Gaza in the 2008/09 war is still unrepaired. The flotilla project seems to be humanitarian in character but could quickly take on dangerous political dimensions if its vessels try to ignore Israeli's efforts to direct it to the Ashdod, the nearby Israeli port. None of this would be necessary if the United States put greater pressure on Israel to open its land checkpoints.