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 email@example.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;
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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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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?
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?
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?
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:
(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)
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.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) remains deeply concerned about the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the brutal killings of over 200 Palestinians and serious injuries of over 16,000 Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation Forces during the Great March of Return, and the ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza. The United Nations has declared that Gaza is growing dangerously close to being totally uninhabitable. We demand the full freedom of movement for all Palestinians, full access to maritime resources for Palestinians and unconditional and permanent lifting of the blockade of Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition will sail until Palestine is free.
The Coalition, with participants from 10 campaigns, met in Rivas, Spain, November 9-11, 2018 to begin planning its next mission to break the illegal blockade of Gaza. This was the first face-to-face meeting of the Coalition since our Just Future for Palestine mission of May-August 2018. We continue to urge supporters to demand that Israel release the 114 boxes of medical supplies to our partner organization in Gaza (see statement here and sign our petition).
Participating in the meeting were representatives from Rumbo a Gaza (Spain), Ship to Gaza Norway, Ship to Gaza Sweden, US Boat to Gaza, Canadian Boat to Gaza, IHH (Turkey), International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, Kia Ora Gaza (New Zealand / Aotearoa), MyCARE (Malaysia), as well as from South Africa, and a delegation from Portugal.
The FFC has adopted the following strategic plan focussing on children and youth in Gaza:
1. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition will sail again to break the illegal blockade of Gaza, for which the planning has already begun.
2. The FFC will hold an International Week of activities for Gaza in October 2019.
3. FFC supporters will be invited to participate in many regional educational and awareness raising activities to get on board the Flotilla, beginning very soon.
Freedom Flotilla Coalition News Statement For Immediate Release, Monday July 30, 2018 15:00 CEST.
Two people from Al Awda (The Return) have been released, but most of the crew and participants are still in unlawful detention at Givon prison in Israel. We are still gravely concerned for their safety and well-being as we had no contact with most of them as of 14:00 CEST today. We continue to demand that our boat and the medical supplies on board reach their rightful recipients, Palestinian civil society in Gaza.
Although the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) claim that the capture of our vessel happened ‘without exceptional incident’, eye-witness Zohar Chamberlain Regev reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.” We urgently need to know the details of who was injured and how seriously, and what treatment they are receiving, if any. A military attack on a civilian vessel is a violent act and a violation of international law. Taking 22 people from international waters to a country which is not their destination constitutes an act of kidnapping, which is also unlawful under the international Convention of the Law of Sea.
From the time we lost contact around 13:15 local time on Sunday, we know that the IOF blocked all communication signals, including satellite phones. We are very concerned about this violation of journalists’ right to report freely and we remain gravely concerned about their ability to keep their professional equipment and their storage media. As Australian journalist Chris Graham recently observed “Bad things happen when good people stay silent, as history well records. But horrendous things happen when media are prevented from scrutinizing the actions of a state.”
Two of our participants who are Israeli citizens have been charged with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy to commit a crime, and were released on bail last night. One of them, boat leader Zohar Chamberlain Regev, reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship.
In comparison with the violence routinely directed at Palestinian civilians, including at fishers from Gaza, and the violent capture of Palestinian fishing boats, yesterday’s seizure and kidnapping may not be the most serious of Israeli crimes. What these violents acts have in common is that there is no accountability demanded by other governments and Israel continues to enjoy total impunity.
We call on national governments, civil society and international organizations to demand that Israeli authorities immediately release our boat so that we can deliver our much-needed medical supplies on Al Awda and the fishing boat itself to the rightful recipients in Gaza. Detailed specification of our exact cargo on board are available on request.
Israel’s capture of the lead boat in this Gaza-bound flotilla may seem like a predictable outcome to some, but that doesn’t make it any less violent nor any less illegal. Our second boat Freedom will follow Al Awda within a day or two, and the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement.
Details about detainees still in prison, including their last videos and personal statements, can be found on our website and Facebook pages.
Re: Safe and unhindered passage for the 2018 International Freedom Flotilla to Gaza
The 2018 international Freedom Flotilla departed Sicily earlier this week and is now heading across the Mediterranean Sea towards Gaza and is due to arrive within the next several days.
On board are two Canadian citizens: John Turnbull, and Larry Commodore of the Sto:lo Nation, Canada who have bravely joined a number of other prominent human rights advocates from around the world to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza.
The flotilla also carries approximately 13,000 Euros worth of urgently needed medical supplies (including gauze) to be gifted to Gaza’s over-stretched health services. The boats will be gifted to Gaza’s fishers, who are in desperate need of support in order to feed their families.
Like our many previous missions, this flotilla poses no threat whatsoever to the Israeli Government. However, in light of Israel’s unlawful attacks on, and seizure of previous Gaza-bound civilian boats in international waters, we once again call on the Canadian Government to urgently demand the Israeli authorities end their inhumane and illegal blockade of the Palestinian people of Gaza and allow the 2018 Freedom Flotilla safe and unhindered passage to their destination – the port of Gaza.
The motor vessel Al Awda (The Return), traveling in international waters towards Palestinian waters, 49 nautical miles from the port in Gaza City, has been contacted by the Israeli Occupation Forces navy and warned. The Israeli navy claims our ship is breaking international law and threatens that they will use “any measures necessary” to stop us. In fact, the only “necessary measures” would be to end the blockade of Gaza and restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians. At last news from on board, Al Awda maintains her course towards Gaza, where the crew and participants hope to arrive this evening around 21:00 local time.
A number of warships have appeared, so an attack, boarding and capture appear to be imminent, and we anticipate that all communications with the vessel will be lost shortly. Al Awda is sailing under a Norwegian flag, carrying 22 people and a cargo of medical supplies, including #Gauze4Gaza. There are people from 16 nations on board, including human rights supporters, journalists and crew, along with €13,000 worth of medical supplies. The boat itself, a former fishing vessel from Norway, is a gift to Palestinian fishers in Gaza.
Four boats left Scandinavia in mid-May and have since stopped in 28 ports building support for a ‘Just Future for Palestine’, that demands Israel end its ongoing breaches of international law and the twelve-year blockade of Gaza, thereby enabling the only closed port in the Mediterranean to open and for people to have their right to freedom of movement. Al Awda is being followed by the Swedish-flagged yacht Freedom, which is also carrying medical supplies along with people from a number of nations. We anticipate that it will reach a similar area where the IOF attacked Al Awda within the next two days. Two smaller sailing boats that travelled from Scandinavia and sailed through the canal system in Netherlands, Belgium and France visiting inland ports, participated in the mission until Palermo.
“The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on the Norwegian Government, the national governments of those aboard Al Awda and the Freedom, other national governments, and relevant international organizations to act immediately.” said Torstein Dahle of Ship to Gaza Norway, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. “The international community must assume its responsibilities and demand that Israeli authorities ensure the safety of those on board, the speedy delivery of our gifts to the Palestinian people in Gaza, an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, and to stop impeding our legal right of innocent passage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies”.