Already unliveable: Help the Freedom Flotilla sail against the inhuman blockade of Gaza

 

Dear Supporters,
In 2020, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition will sail again to break the illegal and inhuman blockade of Gaza. During this mission we will be focusing on children and youth struggling to survive in the wreckage of Gaza, their beloved home. Canada Boat to Gaza is reaching out to children and youth organizations, and to individuals like you, to help support our work and to bring an end to the suffering in Gaza.

Eight years ago in 2012, the UN declared that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. Over the years, the international community has watched that prediction become truth. Palestinians in Gaza live among bombed out hospitals, schools, and homes. There are water, food and electricity shortages throughout the beleaguered strip making basic survival a serious challenge. The desperate economic situation in Gaza also means that children have to think and act as older than they are, with too many of them working to help support their families.

The most vulnerable of the innocent are children and youth, many of whom have been deliberately targeted by Israeli snipers since the beginning of the Great March of Return, when Palestinians demand their right to return to their homeland from which Israel expelled them. Israeli snipers have murdered at least 256 Palestinians in these peaceful protests, and more than 29,000 have been maimed for life, many of them children and youth. Please watch and share this award-winning short video about one of them, Dreams in the Crosshairs, created by one of our Palestinian partner organizations in Gaza, We Are Not Numbers, with funding from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

The world expresses outrage and yet the slaughter and deliberate destruction of Gaza continues with impunity. In November 2019, after a three day Israeli offensive on Gaza, Palestinian Health Minister, Dr. Mai al-Kaila, reported that one-third of the Palestinians killed by Israeli missiles and shells were women and children.

It seems clear that Israel is systematic targeting Gaza's future, its children and youth. Imagine if this was happening in your hometown. Imagine if it was your child who was permanently maimed for peacefully protesting human rights violations. Would the world still be silent? Would you want others to speak up against these attacks?

Will you help us sail this year? Together we can help end the blockade! Read and share our last message (Why we Sail, and Sail and Sail Again) on the Canadian Boat to Gaza website.

Many of you will be hearing this week about the "Steal of the Century" proposed by the US President. We remind everyone that without justice, there can be no peace, and so we encourage you to read, share and amplify Palestinian responses in your communities and around the world, including this "Appeal of the Century" from We Are Not Numbers.

A critical way to help our campaign is to contribute financially. There are different ways you can make a donation. Click here to donate. We ask you to consider a monthly donation. We are pleased to accept e-transfers from Canadian bank accounts (Interac) or online using a major credit card or PayPal account. You can also donate by cheque or money order and mailing to Canadian Boat to Gaza, PO Box 1950, London Stn. B, London, Ontario N6A 5J4, CANADA. In other countries, please consider donating through one of our Freedom Flotilla coalition partner campaigns : https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/donate

Why We Sail, Sail, and Sail Again: Freedom Flotilla 2020

Freedom Flotilla sailors and participants are sometimes asked: Why do you keep sailing toward Gaza only to be captured? Why not give the funds you raise directly to the Palestinians of Gaza as aid? Our rationale for sailing and our experiences in 2018 provide some answers. Our Palestinian partners in Gaza are asking us to challenge the illegal blockade. In May 2018 the Norwegian fishing trawler Al Awda (The Return) and the Swedish sailing ship Freedom sailed from Scandinavia. Over two months, we called on ports in Denmark, Germany, Holland, England, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy spreading the message of freedom for Palestinians. Israel has extended its reach, pressuring governments in Cyprus,Turkey, and Greece to prevent our ships sailing from their ports.

Canadians Karen DeVito and John Turnbull joined the sailing ship Freedom in Denmark and crewed her from Copenhagen to Palermo where John then captained the ship on the final leg toward Gaza. Other Canadians, including Heather Milton-LighteningRon RousseauMajed KhraishiKathy Wazana, and Larry Commodore of the Stó:lo Nation, were on board Al Awda at different points in her voyage, and Canadian journalist Dimitri Lascaris reported for The Real News Network from Flotilla boats and from several ports. 

The arrival of the ships at each European port occasioned special events, marches, music, speaking opportunities, as well as visits with municipal and provincial politicians. In some places cities and regions had passed motions to support the Flotilla and recognize Palestine. In Amsterdam, activists organized a small-boat Flotilla through the canals with music, banners and flags. Supporters followed along the canals and bridges handing out hundreds of flyers. Brighton, England gave a rousing welcome on the pier, held an information event in a local park, and a packed house speaking event in the town. Gijón, Spain held a march through the city with about 800 people with music, dancing, singing and a Palestinian flag that required 40 people to parade it through the streets. The City Council of Cádiz, Spain voted the Flotilla "Illustrious Visitor." Two smaller Swedish sailboats crossed Netherland, Belgium and France by river and canal, catching public interest when authorities prevented them from mooring in Paris, and visited a number of other waterside communities.

Energizing local solidarity groups, providing outreach and diplomacy are all aspects of the Flotilla's work. The voyage around Europe is so valuable in these respects. We also discovered that refugees would visit our ships at each port. The mayors of three Italian ports met our ships at the piers and declared refugees welcome to their cities, regardless of their then-Prime Minister's negative attitude. Our crew met with local and provincial politicians, ambassadors– they attended regional parliamentary sessions, municipal meetings and gave presentations to the public as well as tours of the boats. All these activities are part of why we sail.

Palestinians in Gaza are now more than ever connected with the rest of the world by the internet. They know when the Freedom Flotilla is coming; they go to the seashore and wait. We are answering a civil society call when we sail–when we ask our partner organizations in Gaza if they would prefer a donations over a Flotilla, they always respond saying we should to sail and raise international awareness about the blockade. They prefer we expand awareness of the longest running occupation in modern history. They also tell us that our sailing gives Palestinians hope and the knowledge that they are not alone.

The Flotilla movement has launched successful legal challenges to Israel for improper confiscation of our ships. One recent court victory by Ship to Gaza Sweden provided the funds for purchase of the Freedom and two smaller sailboats that travelled through France to the Mediterranean. And so Captain John, when interrogated on the way to an Israeli prison, was pleased to answer this question: "Did a terrorist organization provide your funding?" with a solid "Yes!". Then to the question "Which one?", John replied: "The Israeli government."

The Freedom, aside from its main cargo of hope, also carried some medical aid that Israel is required to deliver. To date our 114 boxes remain in Israel, awaiting delivery to Gaza. While these medical supplies were not a significant quantity, they provide another opportunity for ongoing legal action in Israeli courts against the blockade.

The Flotilla will sail again in 2020, at the request of Palestinians of Gaza. This is the year the UN report declared that Gaza will be unliveable. Right now, most of its drinking water is contaminated. Every child shows symptoms of psychological distress. Each Friday Palestinians stand on their own land near the fence asking for their human rights as Israeli snipers shoot them. In 2018 the IDF has killed 254 people in Gaza, 47 of them children. Thousands have been injured; many amputations have resulted.

There are shortages of medicine in Gaza. Children go to school in shifts. Many are orphaned. Israeli drones fly overhead day and night. Hospitals are overwhelmed, especially on Fridays. Last summer we met young Jamil from Gaza in an Italian port; his mother had applied to Israel for permission to take him there for medical treatment. During the years of waiting he had survived on blood transfusions from his grandfather. He must return once his rare blood condition is treated. We saw the worry in his mother’s eyes. Gaza is hazardous even for a healthy child. 

And so the flotilla will sail again in 2020, even more mindful this year of the children of Gaza and the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the Mavi Marmara and other Flotilla vessels in 2010.

One critical way to help this campaign is to contribute financially. There are different ways you can make a donation. Click here to donate. We ask you to consider a monthly donation. We are pleased to accept e-transfers from Canadian bank accounts (Interac) or online using a major credit card or PayPal account. You can also donate by cheque or money order and mailing to Canadian Boat to Gaza, PO Box 1950, London Stn. B, London, Ontario N6A 5J4, CANADA. In other countries, please consider donating through one of our Freedom Flotilla coalition partner campaigns.

Please help us spread the word about our campaigns:

– share our messages with your family, friends and/or work colleagues and encourage them to join our mailing list; 
– send an endorsement message from your association, union, congregation or political party;
– organize and attend events to raise funds and awareness for our campaign;
– join a Freedom Flotilla campaign near you and encourage others to do so;
– follow us on the web, Facebook, Twitter (see below) and share our posts widely.

Together, we can help end the blockade!

#Freedom Flotilla 2018 Media Highlights

When the #FreedomFlotilla sailed in 2018, stories about the voyage and our participants were published in different places. Below we revisit a few* of the mainstream and social media highlights:

Newsweek, 16 May, Humanitarians on the High Seas: Freedom Flotilla Sets Sail for Gaza

Al Jazeera English, 29 July, Interview with David Heap live in London Studio for 10pm world news

Russia Today, Going Underground, 8 August, Dr Swee – Eyewitness Testimony of UK-backed Israeli Forces attacking the Freedom Flotilla   

The Guardian, 2 August, ‘Claims of violence as Israel deports crew of Gaza aid vessel

Roger Waters, 14 August, Great First Night In Oslo on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

Read more about the Freedom Flotilla participants.
* Work in progress – more to follow…

Freedom Flotilla 2020: For the Children of Gaza

After joining other civil society organizations in The Hague on Friday November 29 calling on the International Criminal Court to take action and prosecute Israeli crimes against Palestinians, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition met in Rotterdam this weekend to plan our May 2020 sailing towards Gaza with these important goals:

  • To challenge and end the illegal and inhuman Israeli blockade of Gaza
  • To restore the rights of children and youth in Gaza, for life, security and freedom of movement.

For more than five years the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has been warning the world that Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020 if the blockade does not end. Basic human rights of Palestinians in Gaza are violated daily by the Israeli-imposed blockade, including the right to adequate housing, the right to education, the right to healthcare, the right to clean water and food, and in particular the right to freedom of movement.

Civil society organizations from around the world have combined to challenge the blockade since 2008, when Free Gaza boats managed to arrive in Gaza and leave again peacefully. In all, more than 35 boats have sailed to challenge the blockade. May 2020 will mark 10 years since the attack by Israeli forces on boats including the Mavi Marmara, where they killed 10 people and seriously wounded 56 others. Since 2010 we have sailed as the Freedom Flotilla Coalition: international civil society organizations united for human rights and dedicated to challenging the blockade of Gaza through nonviolent direct action. 

“The children of Gaza deserve the same rights as children in every other country of the world,” comments Ann Wright of the US Boat to Gaza. “They are more than a million, more than half of the population of Gaza, and they are being deprived of the right to a just future because of the illegal blockade and ongoing military attacks on occupied Gaza by Israel, with the complicity of our governments.”

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on people of conscience from around the world to support our May 2020 mission for the children of Gaza.

December 1, 2019. Rotterdam.

For further background information, see: jfp.freedomflotilla.org
For media comment, contact our campaign spokespeople:
jfp.freedomflotilla.org/media-room-2
To donate in support of our work, see the different pages from our international campaigns here.

You can donate online (canadaboatgaza.org/donate) or by postal mail. Make out cheque or money order to Turtle Island Humanitarian Aid and mail it to:


Canadian Boat to Gaza
PO Box 1950, London Stn. B
London, Ontario N6A 5J4
CANADA

 

(Note: like many of our sister organizations, we would prefer to move away from PayPal for online donations. At this point, we are pleased to accept e-Interac transfers from Canadian bank accounts, and we hope to announce other electronic payment methods soon. Please e-mail us if you have questions about this)

Whether you can donate financially or not, please help us spread the word about our campaign:

  • share our messages with your family, friends and/or work colleagues and encourage them to join our mailing list; 
  • send an endorsement message from your association, union, congregation or political party;
  • organize and attend events to raise funds and awareness for our campaign;
  • join a Freedom Flotilla campaign near you and encourage others to do so;
  • follow us on the web, Facebook, Twitter (see below), and share our posts widely.

Twitter: @CanadaBoatGaza @GazaFFlotilla

www.facebook.com/CanadaBoatGaza        
www.facebook.com/BateauCanadienGaza 
www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition  

Together, we can help end the blockade!

en francais

*Après s'être jointe à d'autres organisations de la société civile à la Haye vendredi 29 novembre pour demander à la Cour Pénale internationale d'agir et de poursuivre les Israéliens pour les crimes contre les Palestiniens, la Coalition de la Flottille de la Liberté s'est réunie à Rotterdam pendant la fin de semaine du 30 novembre et 1er décembre afin de mettre au point notre voyage vers Gaza en mai 2020. Ses objectifs importants sont :

  • Défier le blocus illégal et inhumain de la bande de Gaza et y mettre un terme;
  • Restaurer les droits des enfants et de la jeunesse de Gaza, droits à la vie, à la sécurité et à la liberté de mouvement.

Cela fait plus de cinq ans que la Conférence des Nations unies sur le Commerce et le Développement (UNCTAD) met le monde en garde sur le fait que Gaza deviendra invivable en 2020 s'il n'est pas mis fin au blocus. Les droits humains élémentaires des Palestiniens et Palestiniennes de Gaza sont violés quotidiennement par ce blocus imposé par Israël, et parmi eux le droit à un logement approprié, le droit à l'éducation, à la santé, à de l'eau propre et de la nourriture, et tout particulièrement à la liberté de mouvement.

Des organisations de la société civile du monde entier se sont regroupées pour défier ce blocus depuis 2008, quand les bateaux de Free Gaza ont réussi à atteindre Gaza et puis en repartir en paix.

En tout, 35 bateaux au moins ont pris la mer depuis pour défier le blocus. Depuis 2010 nous naviguons sous la bannière de la Coalition de la Flottille de la Liberté, des organisations de la société civile unies dans la défense des droits humains et dédiées à défier le blocus, par de l'action directe non violente.

MAI 2020 MARQUERA LES 10 ANS DEPUIS L'ATTAQUE PAR LA MARINE ISRAELIENNE DE NOS BATEAUX y compris le MAVI MARMARA, sur lequel les soldats ont tué 10 personnes et en ont blessé gravement 56 autres.

“Les enfants de Gaza doivent avoir les mêmes droits que tous les autres enfants dans tous les pays du  monde,” déclare Ann Wright de la campagne US Boat to Gaza (Un bateau pour Gaza-USA). “Ils sont plus d'un million, plus de la moitié de la population de Gaza, et ils sont privés du droit à un avenir juste à cause de  ce blocus illégal et des attaques militaires récurrentes qu'Israël mène contre Gaza avec la complicité de nos gouvernements.”

La Coalition de la Flottille de la Liberté appelle tous les gens de conscience partout dans le monde à soutenir notre mission de mai 2020 pour les enfants de Gaza. 

Rotterdam, 1er décembre 2019

Pour plus d'information : http://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/

Pour les médias, contactez les porte-paroles de nos campagnes.

Pour faire un don, voir les différentes pages de nos campagnes internationales ici.

#EnfantsDeGaza #FlottilleDeLaLiberté #FinBlocusGaza
#GazaKids #FreedomFlotilla #EndGazaBlockade

Vous pouvez faire un don en ligne (canadaboatgaza.org/donate) ou par chèque à la poste. Il faut libeller votre chèque ou mandat postal au nom de: Aide humanitaire Île de la Tortue et l'envoyer à:

 


Bateau canadien pour Gaza
PO Box 1950, London Stn. B
London, Ontario N6A 5J4
CANADA

 

(Nota bene: comme beaucoup de nos alliés, nous aimerions réduire notre dépendance sur PayPal pour les dons en ligne. En ce moment, nous sommes heureux d'accepter les virements par e-Interac à partir des comptes bancaires canadiens, et nous espérons annoncer bientôt d'autres méthodes pour effectuer les paiements électoniques. Veuillez nous contacter par courriel si vous avez des questions à cet égard).  

 

Que vous puissiez ou pas nous soutenir financièrement, veuillez nous aider à diffuser notre campagne:

  • partagez nos messages avec votre famille, vos amis, et/ ou vos collègues de travail, et encouragez-les à s'abonner à notre liste de courriel; 
  • envoyez un message de soutien de la part de votre association, votre syndicat, votre congrégation ou votre parti politique. 
  • organisez et assistez à des événements afin de lever des fond et de conscientiser les gens aux objectifs de notre campagne;
  • inscrivez-vous à une campagne de la Freedom Flotilla à proximité de vous, et encouragez d'autres personnes à le faire aussi; et
  • suivez-nous en web, sur Facebook, Twitter (voir ci-après), et partager nos billets largement.
  • Twitter: @CanadaBoatGaza @GazaFFlotilla

    www.facebook.com/CanadaBoatGaza        

    www.facebook.com/BateauCanadienGaza 

    www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition  

Ensemble, nous pouvons aider à rompre le blocus! 

[Gaza] situation continues to deteriorate: in 2020, we sail for the children of Gaza

Dear Supporters, 

 

For more than a decade, Israel and Egypt have blockaded the Gaza Strip, by land, air and sea. For most of that decade, the Canada Boat to Gaza has been sailing with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, in solidarity with Palestine to break the illegal blockade of Gaza. Nothing is getting better there. During Gaza’s Great March of Return, Israeli  forces have killed at least 267 people and maimed 30 000 other. Gaza will very soon be uninhabitable. Innocent women, children and men will soon have even less access to clean drinking water, food and other essentials of life. Our Canadian government remains complicit in this crime.

 

Canada Boat to Gaza has been busy since our last sailing in 2018. This summer we partnered with the US Boat to Gaza to hold local flotilla actions to raise awareness about the dire situation in Gaza. CBG held two events in London, Ont, and we increased awareness across the country. Our partners in the US held actions in St. Louis, Madison, Chicago, San Francisco, Avalon – Catalina Island, Spokane, Mary’s River, Quilcene Bay, Bellingham, Lyme and more. See it all here. The Canadian captain of the 2018 Flotilla vessel Freedom, John Turnbull, participated in the recent Bellingham event : 

 

The situation in Gaza is unimaginable to most Canadians. Lack of clean drinking water is an issue in some communities here at home. In Gaza, it affects almost two million people. The effects of trauma on this population, including those who have been peacefully protesting during the Great March of Return, are immeasurable. This year, as we plan for our 2020 Flotilla, we are focussing on children and youth in Gaza. We will be reaching out to individuals and organizations who can help us raise awareness about this human-made humanitarian crisis and our responsibility for it. And, as always, we will be holding our government accountable for their complicity in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

 

Our work is not finished and we all need to continue until Palestine is free. We need your help. Please consider volunteering with us as we prepare for our actions in 2020. We need help event planning, fundraising and more. Contact us today at canadaboatgaza@gmail.com

A critical way to help this campaign is to contribute financially. There are different ways you can make a donation. Click here to donate. We ask you to consider a monthly donation. We are pleased to accept e-transfers from Canadian bank accounts (Interac) or online using a major credit card or PayPal account. You can also donate by cheque or money order and mailing to Canadian Boat to Gaza, PO Box 1950, London Stn. B, London, Ontario N6A 5J4, CANADA
 

Please help us spread the word about our campaigns:

– share our messages with your family, friends and/or work colleagues and encourage them to join our mailing list; 
– send an endorsement message from your association, union, congregation or political party;
– organize and attend events to raise funds and awareness for our campaign;
– join a Freedom Flotilla campaign near you and encourage others to do so;
– follow us on the web, Facebook, Twitter (see below) and share our posts widely.
 

Twitter: @GazaFFlotilla

www.facebook.com/CanadaBoatGaza        
www.facebook.com/BateauCanadienGaza 
www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition  
You can support Canadian Boat to Gaza by donating via e-transfer (Interac, from Canada accounts only), mailing cheques or money orders, or online, see : http://canadaboatgaza.org/donate/.

 In other parts of the world, please consider donating through one of our other partner campaigns in the Freedom Flotilla:  https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/donate


Together, we can help end the blockade!

 

 

Flotilla Medical Supplies for Gaza: Still Missing

Nearly 15 months after propaganda from Israeli authorities claiming that we countered at the time, the Israeli government has still not released 114 boxes of medical supplies for Gaza that were aboard the two Freedom Flotilla boats which they hijacked in international waters. We received this letter in July from MyCARE, our partner in Gaza, who confirm that to date they still have not received the medical supplies.

In the last couple of months our lawyers have been presenting evidence to the Haifa Maritime Court, including affidavits from Captain Herman Reksten (Al Awda), Captain John Turnbull (Freedom) and Ann Wright (FFC – US Boat to Gaza).

This case is important as we attempt to highlight the effects of the ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza, which has caused a humanitarian crisis, which our boats with their cargo sought to alleviate, in a small way.

Al Awda arriving Palermo, July 2018

 

Freedom and Al Awda in international waters, July 2018

Background

29 July 2018 – the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violently attacked our small fishing boat ‘Al Awda’ (The Return) in international waters. Our crew asserted the right to ‘innocent passage’, as we sailed under a Norwegian flag, but the boat was captured and taken to Ashdod. On 3 August 2018, our second boat ‘Freedom’ was also attacked in international waters. 15 months on and the 114 boxes of medical supplies that our boats carried have yet to be received by MyCARE – our partners in Gaza and the boats which we were delivering as a gift to fishers in Gaza have still not been returned or delivered.

Medical supplies being loaded aboard Al Awda, Palermo, July 2018

 

Gauze for Gaza: boxes loaded onto Freedom Flotilla vessels before departure.
Gauze for Gaza: boxes of medical supplies loaded onto Freedom Flotilla boats before departure from Sicily, July 2018

Zohar Chamberlain Regev, spokesperson for FFC said: ‘The Israeli government’s ongoing illegal and inhumane blockade of more than two million Palestinian people in Gaza is an outrage. Last year we sailed two small civilian boats all around Western Europe and towards Gaza. Our cargo was medical supplies, love and solidarity which we were delivering to our friends and partners in Gaza. Our boats – one flying the Norwegian flag and one the Swedish flag – were attacked illegally in international waters. We demand to know what happened to the medical supplies which we were carrying and that they will be delivered without further delay to our partners in Gaza.”

Further legal background

11 July 2018 – a group of Israeli citizens presented an urgent embargo request against the same boats to the Jerusalem District Court, claiming that they were the property of Hamas and as such should be sold to pay damages Hamas had previously been ordered to pay.

13 August 2018 – the Israeli state presented a first notice of its intention to confiscate our boats. On 22 August 2018 the official confiscation request was presented to the Haifa Maritime Court based on maritime capture law.

7 October 2018 – hearing at Haifa Maritime Court where it was decided to deal with the request of confiscation for both boats together. Dates were decided for presentation of affidavits and on 11 November 2018 we presented our response to the confiscation request.

25 December 2018 – the Israeli state presented affidavits by Major A from Navy Intelligence [sic] responsible for the preparation for the boats’ arrival, Major Gal Mor from the Maritime Control Unit of the Navy and Anuar Ganaim from COGAT.

5 May 2019 – we presented an affidavit regarding the capture, the medical supplies on board, the missing personal items and the correspondence with COGAT regarding the non-delivery of the medical supplies.

29 July 2019 – the Israeli state presented affidavits concerning the medical supplies from Basam Hino of COGAT and Sharon Atshmoz of the Logistics Unit of the Navy base in Ashdod. The affidavits contained discrepancies regarding the exact quantity of medical supplies found on both boats and supposedly delivered to Gaza. Since the supporting documents were not attached to the affidavits, on 1 August 2019 we presented a formal request for access to those documents.

For further information or interviews, please contact any of our media spokespeople.

Ann and Barbara packing and labelling some of the boxes of medical supplies

Video highlights of our 5,000 nautical mile Freedom Flotilla to Gaza in 2018.

Thanks to our partners at MyCARE for producing these beautiful video highlights of our >5,000 nautical mile Freedom Flotilla to Gaza in 2018. Many more stories, photos and videos on our website.

The illegal and inhumane israeli blockade continues, so we will continue to sail until Palestine is and Palestinian people are free. In 2020 we sail again ‘For the Children of Gaza’ ! Please support our campaigns however you can, including financially: http://canadaboatgaza.org/donate/

Freedom Flotilla Preparing to Sail to Gaza in 2020 to raise awareness about Palestinian youth in Gaza

In 2012, the UN predicted that Gaza was on track to become “unliveable” by 2020. In 2017, the UN acknowledged that the “unliveability” threshold had already been passed. Despite this, “somehow, families in Gaza find ways to ‘make do’.”

In Spring 2020, the next Freedom Flotilla will sail again to challenge the 12 year, illegal and inhuman Israeli blockade imposed on more than 2 million Palestinian people in Gaza – more than half of whom are children.

Partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are mobilizing support for their participation in the Flotilla and you can get involved by contacting your nearest partner listed here.

The people of Gaza do not give up and neither do we. There are 1.4 million young people in Gaza who deserve a better future.

Watch this video by the Israeli NGO Gisha.

Across the world our partners and other friends have been organizing local events to raise
awareness about the continued blockade and also to raise funds to finance the purchase of boats and supplies.

Here are some photos and links to events held in the US, Spain, Sweden and Australia.

For more images and information about US events

For more images and information about Swedish events

For more images and information about the event in Seville

For images and information about events in Australia

For the children in Gaza and for respect of human rights we will sail again until Palestine is free.

 

 

Freedom Flotilla Coalition updates on legal status of boats

An Israeli court has ruled that the two ships, the Al Awda and Freedom, who both sailed this summer and were captured by the Israeli Navy, cannot be sold to compensate families of ‘terrorism’ victims. This decision overturns a ruling made by the Jerusalem District Court and ensures that the hearing will proceed in the Haifa Maritime court, applying Maritime law. We are hopeful that international law will be upheld. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition maintains that Israel must accept our demand that both ships be given as a gift to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), a non profit organization representing fishers in Gaza.

The next hearing in this matter will take place on February 5, 2019.

Decision given by the Haifa maritime court on October 7, 2018

Rumbo a Gaza meets Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Palestine Inter-parliamentary group

Over the last few weeks the Spanish campaign Rumbo a Gaza has meetings with officials at their Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation and with members of parliament who represent their parties in the inter-parliamentary group for Palestine.

On October 1st we had met the general director for North Africa, Mediterranean and Middle East department of the MFA, Eva Felicia Martínez Sánchez; Álvaro Ortega Barón, deputy director for Middle East and Alejandro Fernández-Mazarambroz, manager of consular affairs; they had a chance to hear the description of the attack on the Freedom Flotilla boat Al Awda (The Return) in international waters, close to the coast of Gaza, directly from Lucía Mazarrasa, Rumbo a Gaza representative who was on the boat. She ended up being hijacked along with the rest of the activist and crew aboard and they were all taken against their will to the port of Ashdod by the Israeli navy, put in prison and then expelled.

Rumbo a Gaza asked the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the name of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, to demand that Israel return the items stolen after the attack on its boats in international waters:

– Personal items of the crew and activists on board the boats Al Awda (Norwegian flag) and Freedom (Swedish flag)

– The 114 boxes of medical supplies worth 13,000 € for Gaza hospitals, which are yet to be delivered to its destination

– and the boats themselves

We have also asked that the value of those items be included in the demand of the state of Israel for destruction of installations in Gaza financed by Spanish aid organizations.

Given that the Freedom Flotilla Coalition will continue sailing as a protest against the blockade on the Gaza Strip, while this collective punishment on its population goes on, we request that protection be granted against hijacking of civilians, among them Spanish citizens, in international waters.

Moreover, given the illegality of the blockade, we insist that measures must be taken, including legal ones, to defend the right of the Palestinian population of Gaza to freedom of movement.

Several other issues were brought up during the meeting, including the recognition of Palestine as a state, the prohibition by the Spanish state of trade with the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the request that Spain will encourage other European Union countries to demand the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip and not to renew the preferential trade agreements with Israel, while the blockade and the occupation continue and Israel does not respect human rights.

We acknowledged the attention given by the consular services to the Spanish activists on the boats: Lucía Mazarrasa, Francisco Canales and Emilia Nacher, as well as to Zohar Chamberlain an Israeli citizen resident in Spain, and to their families before and after the attack, and thanked them for their work.

Two weeks later, Rumbo a Gaza met with members of parliament who form the inter-parliamentary group for Palestine in the congress. Among them were Soraya Rodríguez, from the socialist party PSOE, Ricardo Sixto from the United Left party IU, Enric Bataller from Compromís, Rosana Pastor from Podemos. Other MPs from Unidos Podemos and Compromís also took part in the meeting.

In this meeting we presented a document listing various petitions and claims: the theft of goods by Israel, the need to recognize the Palestinian state, the prohibition of commerce between Spain and the illegal Israeli settlements and the breaking of military ties with Israel. The MPs with Soraya Rodríguez as the representative of the ruling party listened to our presentation with interest and proposed the possibility of organizing a conference in support of Palestine at the congress during the first half of December. The issue of human rights will be the focus of the conference and different groups involved in pro-Palestinian activism will be invited.

Lucía Mazarrasa, Rumbo a Gaza’s representative on the boat Al Awda of the Freedom Flotilla, explains to members of the inter-parliamentary group for Palestine of the Congress the violent attack by the Israeli navy in international waters close to the coast of Gaza, on July 29 as it was on its way to break the illegal blockade.

This parliamentary question was presented on August 1st:

TO THE CONGRESS BOARD

The members of Parliament Antón Gómez-Reino Varela, Pablo Bustinduy Amador, Miguel Anxo Fernández Bello, Sergio Pascual Peña, Ricardo Sixto Iglesias, Eva García Sempere, Sonia Farré Fidalgo, Rosa Ana Alonso Clusa y Rosana Pastor Muñoz, belonging to the Confederal Parliamentary Group of Unidos Podemos-En Comú Podem-En Marea, under the protection of the content of Article 185 of the Rules of the House, submit the following questions requesting a written reply in connection with the situation in Palestine.

STATEMENT OF REASONS

As the blockade by Israel on Gaza, a collective punishment strictly forbidden by international law, goes into its twelfth year, the situation has become dramatic and is affecting all aspects of daily life, from economy (65% women unemployment rate and 35% men unemployment rate) to agriculture and fishing very especially, but also health, education, freedom of movement, access to electricity and drinkable water, increase in food insecurity suffered by 70% of the population, increase of the gender inequality gap and the impossibility of reconstruction after the three devastating bombing attacks in 2009, 2012 and 2014 that according to the UN could make Gaza an uninhabitable area by 2020.

The situation in Gaza cannot be separated from the consequences of the Israeli occupation in 1967 of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip itself, which was declared illegal by resolution 242 of the UN, which 51 years later has evolved into an absence of political solutions to create a viable and independent Palestinian estate; a very serious situation of apartheid, segregation and daily violations of human rights; destruction of homes and infrastructure, arrests and imprisonments, particularly of girls and boys in clear infringement of the Convention of Children’s Rights; violence and deaths.

Because of all of this we ask the

FOLLOWING QUESTIONS DEMANDING A WRITTEN RESPONSE

  1. What measures is the Spanish Government planning to take in order to contribute to the peace in the Middle East, with special reference to the occupation and colonization of Palestine, the situation of refugees, the blockade on Gaza, the violation of human rights by Israel, and obstracles to freedom of movement and transport in the area?
  2. What measures in particular, of those stated in international and Spanish law, is the Spanish government planning to take in order to respect and make others respect the traditional Spanish and UN position about Palestine and Israel regarding the suspension of the sale of arms and military exchange before the assassination of peaceful marchers in Gaza, against the increasing colonization of Palestinian land, for an end to the blockade, an end to trade with Israeli settlements, for the right to a Palestinian state of their own and against apartheid, which lately has been constitutionalized in the so-called law of the Jewish Nation-State?
  3. What measures is the government planning to adopt regarding the boarding of ships on humanitarian missions like the one of the Ship to Gaza Flotilla? What actions has the Spanish Government taken against the Government of Israel concerning these facts?
  4. Does the government intend to declare itself to be in favour of the right to free navigation in international waters, the freedom of movement of people and goods to and from Gaza, demanding that special attention be paid to the lives and integrity of flotilla participants?
  5. What consular protection has been dispensed to the three Spaniards, Lucía Mazarrosa, Emilia Nacher and Francisco Canales travelling in the flotilla who, together with Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli citizen resident in Spain, representatives of Ship to Gaza in the international flotilla?

And here is the written response by the Spanish government:

GOVERNMENT’S REPLY

(184) WRITTEN QUESTION CONGRESS

AUTHOR/ESS: BUSTINDUY AMADOR, Pablo (GCUP-ECP-EM); FERNÁNDEZ BELLO, Miguel Anxo Elías (GCUP-ECP-EM); FARRÉ FIDALGO, SOnia (GCUP-ECP-EM); GARCÍA SEMPERE, Eva (GCUP-ECP-EM); PASTOR MUÑOZ, Rosana (GCUP-ECP-EM); PASCUAL PEÑA, Sergio (GCUP-ECP-EM); SIXTO IGLESIAS, Ricardo (GCUP-ECP-EM); ALONSO CLUSA, Rosa Ana (GCUP-ECP-EM); GÓMEZ-REINO VARELA, Antonio (GCUP-ECP-EM)

REPLY:

Regarding the matter in question we inform that Spain keeps a constant interlocution with the parties at the highest level, as it became clear with the successive visits of the Presidents of Israel and Palestine-UNOS (observer state of the UN) last November, which allows us to put forward in a direct way the Spanish position about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and which is well-known, permanent and in line with the frame of the different UN resolutions.

It is a firm position in favour of a solution of two states, Israel and Palestine UNOS, living together in peace and security within internationally recognized frontiers, and with Jerusalem as a capital shared by both states. This position is reflected in the vote of Spain in the international organizations where the question is dealt with.

Spain considers that the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal according to international Law, as resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council reminds us, in favour of which Spain voted as a non-permanent member on 23rd December 2016.

Spain, like the European Union (EU) and its member-states, draws “a distinction, in its relevant relationships, between the territory of the State of Israel and the occupied territories since 1967” as it happens in particular in the field of commercial policy, common policy of the UN run by the European Commission. Indeed, this commerce does not enter within the scope of the Agreement of Association UN-Israel, and the Commission published an explanatory note in 2015 intended to solve the doubts about trade legislation applicable to the products of the areas occupied by Israel since 1967.

As for Gaza, the Spanish Government is very seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Strip. In order to change it for the better, Spain is in favour of the lifting of the blockade and the end of the restrictions imposed on the Strip, preserving the appropriate guarantees for the legitimate security of their neighbours. This appeal is contained in the different conclusions of the Council of Foreign Affairs of the UN and in the resolutions of the United Nations. Thus, last 13th June, the General Assembly adopted a resolution about the protection of the Palestinian civil population which Spain voted to support.

Likewise, Spain follows closely the situation and development of Human Rights in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, consistent with our values, principles and international commitments. Spain makes good use of the tools that we have at our disposal in order to monitor this process both through our bilateral relationships and through the European Union and the multilateral mechanisms for the protection of human rights, in particular of the United Nations.

In each and every session of the Council of Human Rights, Spain refers to the Human Rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in its national speech on the occasion of the general debate about the different situations of human rights which require the attention of the Council.

As for the violent incidents in Gaza, Spain voted in favour of the establishment of an international investigation in the special session of the Council of Human Rights convened on the 18th May with the Spanish support. Likewise, on the 13th June Spain voted in favour of the resolution approved by the General Assembly which calls upon the Secretary General of the United Nations to study mechanisms to protect the civil Palestinian population.

In connection with the boarding of ships on their way to Gaza last 24th July, the Office of Diplomatic Information informed about the steps taken with preventive character by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation before the Israeli authorities, both in Madrid and in Israel, in order to publicly reiterate the Spanish position against the blockade of Gaza, as well as the defence of the principle of free navigation. Likewise, an appeal was made to the Israeli authorities for a maximum restraint on their part in any kind of actuation.

As the Ministry had the opportunity to transmit to the persons concerned, the consular recommendation was crystal clear in advising any Spanish citizen against trying to access Gaza by sea in view of the risks involved.

The attention and monitoring of the events on the side of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Embassy in Tel Aviv and the General Consulate in Jerusalem was total and permanent, including the timely and constant consular protection towards the citizens affected by the deportation order. The consular protection was exercised first in a preventive way, assuring optimal coordination among the different actors, and later in an effective way, watching over the welfare of the Spanish detainees and informing their families and those closest to them about their situation.

Before the arrival of the flotilla ships, members of the Spanish Embassy in Israel met with representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to reiterate the need of assuring the security of the crew members in an eventual assault to the ships, avoiding the unnecessary use of force. Similarly, before and after the assault, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation kept in permanent touch with the Spanish organizers of the flotilla, and the Spanish Embassy in Israel with the embassies of the countries of the other participants and with the Israeli diplomatic, migratory and penitentiary authorities.

Once the ships had been boarded (Al Awda on the 29thJuly and Freedom on the 3rd August), the crew members and passengers were taken to the port of Ashdod and, after being checked by the military authorities, they were put at the disposal of the Israeli migratory authorities and sent to a detention centre for foreigners near the airport. The Israeli citizens were set free. During the process the Spanish Embassy was in touch with the liaison personnel of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who assured that the two Spanish women in the first ship and the two Spanish men in the second were fine.

On 30th July the Spanish consul went to visit Mrs. Lucía Mazarrasa and Mrs. Emilia Nacher in the detention centre, and on 5th August to Mr. Francisco Canales and Mr. Ian Agustín Díez Young, a British-Spanish dual citizen, though he was only in possession of British passport. The consul visited Mr. Canales again on the 7th August. In these visits the consul showed his interest in the health and welfare of the Spanish detainees. Likewise, after receiving authorization from the detainees, the consul informed their families of their situation and of the deportation flights in which the three Spaniards returned to Spain and the dual citizen to the United Kingdom.

Between detention and deportation, the Embassy was in touch with the Israeli authorities in order to make sure that the Spaniards were fine and also to avoid unnecessary delays. The deportations took place on August 1st (Mrs. Mazarrasa), August 2nd (Mrs. Nacher), August 5th (Mr. Díez Young) and August 8th (Mr. Canales).

Finally, the Spanish Embassy in Israel is taking steps to recover those personal objects belonging to the Spanish citizens which have not yet been returned by the Israeli authorities.

Madrid, 15th October 2018