Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Freedom Flotilla sets sail from Sicily to breech Gaza blockade


By Naomi Kundera - July 24, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Freedom Flotilla] [medical supplies] [Gaza Blockade]

Three boats carrying boxes of medical supplies set sail from the Sicilian port Palermo on July 22 in an attempt to break the decade-long naval blockade on Gaza.

Al Awda (“the return”), a large fishing vessel, Freedom to Gaza, a large sailing vessel, and Falestine, a smaller sailing vessel are all a part of the “Right for a Just Future for Palestine” campaign organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC).
 
The purpose of this campaign is to assert Palestinians’ right to the freedom of movement and right to a just future, according to a coalition press release.
 
This year, given the dire situation of hospitals in Gaza, the boats are carrying “urgently needed medical supplies” as a part of a supplemental “#GauzeforGaza” campaign.
 
The need for medical supplies has become even more critical in the past few months in the wake of the violent oppression against protestors during the Great Return March.
 
In May, Israel intercepted a vessel leaving Gaza that was carrying student activists and Palestinians injured from the Great Return March protests. The vessel was attempting to break the siege in search of medical assistance but were instead arrested and escorted back to Israel.
 
The United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 15,501 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces between March 30 and June 30, of which over half required hospitalization.
 
In 2008 two small wooden boats carrying 44 people from 17 different countries successfully reached the shores of Gaza in the first breach of the siege by sea.
 
The FFC was created in 2010 after Israeli forces killed nine Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara, a ship that sailed from Cyprus in the same year. The coalition was also formed in an attempt to coordinate the various actions that took place since 2008.
 
Between 2008 and 2016, a plethora of international activists have sailed on 31 boats to challenge Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza.
 
Along with the medical support these boats will also provide important economic and training opportunities for Gazans, whose fishing industry has been thwarted by the naval blockade.
 
The three boats currently on route to Gaza will be donated to the people of Gaza by the Union of Agricultural Work Committee in an attempt to support local fisherman unions.
 
The spokesperson for the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign, Jeanette Escanilla, explained in an FCC press release that, “Currently, the Israeli Occupying Force prevent Palestinians in Gaza from sailing more than a few nautical miles from shore, and routinely attack fishing and other boats from Gaza.”
 

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