Freedom Flotilla III Sails to Break Gaza Blockade

June 29, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


UPDATE: As we go to press, the Marianne was forcibly seized by the Israeli Navy. Petros Stergiou, a spokesperson for the flotilla, told Al Jazeera that “the Israeli navy attacked the Marianne around 100 nautical miles from the shore of Gaza.” And he said "Once again, the Israeli government and its military has acted like state pirates and attacked our boat in international waters."


AP Photo: Rafah refugee camp in Gaza where five members of the Ghannam family were killed by an Israeli missile on July 11.

Rafah refugee camp in Gaza where five members of the Ghannam family were killed by an Israeli missile on July 11, 2014. Photo: AP

A new and third effort is underway by activists from around the world to break the deadly Israeli blockade that is strangling Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla III (or “FF3”) planned to sail four small boats from European ports directly to Gaza, in defiance of the Israeli occupiers of Palestine. One of the boats was sabotaged while in a European port and had to drop out of the flotilla, according to organizers, who blame Israeli agents for the damage.

There have been a number of attempts, by land and sea, to break through the Israeli stranglehold on Gaza that has been in effect since 2007. In December 2009, the Gaza Freedom March attempted to physically break through the blockade from Egypt. (See “Gaza Freedom March: A Call to the World.”) Israel enforces a strict siege of Gaza, banning all entry to and exit from Gaza except for a trickle of supplies and the rare instance when they permit a person with a medical emergency access to an Israeli hospital. This has caused immense damage to the Palestinians in Gaza, known as the world’s largest open-air prison.

AP Photo:

Two women were killed when an Israeli missile hit this clinic for disabled people in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza on July 12, 2014. Photo: AP

This flotilla comes one year after the savage Israeli military assault on Gaza that reduced much of the tiny Gaza Strip to rubble and made almost a third of the population homeless, along with killing at least 2,158 people. (See “The Ongoing Assault on Gaza” for more on Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza, and watch for a forthcoming article on the UN report on Gaza.)

The two previous flotillas, in 2010 and 2011, were forcibly intercepted and boarded by Israeli armed forces to prevent their arrival in Gaza. In 2010, the Israelis violently attacked the Mavi Marmara, a medium-sized cruise ship that had set sail from Turkey with 590 passengers on board as part of the effort. During the night of May 30, Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter with guns blazing onto the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters. They killed nine people and injured dozens in a major act of international terrorism that was fully upheld by the Israeli authorities (A 10th victim of the Israeli attack died a year later from injuries sustained during the attack.)

FF3 has made a point of recruiting passengers who will help the anti-blockade ships attract international attention. On board the lead ship Marianne are a former president of Tunisia and a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament (the Knesset). Also participating is former U.S. military officer and diplomat Ann Wright.

Follow the flotilla in real time at Follow Mariannes voyage towards Gaza.


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