It was the second year of the first Palestinian intifada and the PLO leader Yasser Arafat, organized a group of Palestinian refugees and international supporters to board a "refugee ship" in Cyprus. The ship was given the symbolic name "al-Awda" (The Return).
The plan was to sail it to an Israeli port, forcing Israel either to sink or board the ship or let it land its refugees demanding their "right of return." Large numbers of journalists and observers were also on hand.
On February 14, the night before the ship was due to set sail, it was mysteriously blown up in Limassol harbour.
Responsibility for the sinking was never claimed but it was reported later that it was the work of an Israeli naval commando unit called Flotilla 13.
"It's not enough to be right," pundit Yoni Ben-Menachem told Israel Radio today. "You have to be smart as well."