Israeli Airstrike Hits Boat At Gaza Port As It Prepared To Meet 2018 Freedom Flotilla

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Above Photo: The Al Awda, a vessel sailing to Gaza as part of the 2018 Freedom Flotilla. (Photo: Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

This year’s Freedom Flotilla hopes its voyage “will open the channels for others to travel to Palestine and, more importantly, for the Palestinian people to use their own territorial waters for fishing, other maritime resources, travel, exports and imports.”

GAZA — Not long after the 2018 Freedom Flotilla — carrying “politicians, activists, journalists, trade-union leaders, artists and performers, professors, faith leaders, representatives of student organizations” — embarked on its journey from Scandinavia to the largest open-air prison in the world — Gaza — Israel attempted to thwart its plans by striking a boat in Gaza City that was preparing to meet the flotilla upon its arrival.

No casualties have been reported from the Israeli attack this Wednesday.

The 2018 Freedom Flotilla is part of a movement to demonstrate solidarity with Gaza, in an attempt to break Israel’s illegal blockade by transporting activists to the Strip, drawing international media attention to the humanitarian crisis there in the process. This year’s flotilla hopes its voyage “will open the channels for others to travel to Palestine and, more importantly, for the Palestinian people to use their own territorial waters for fishing, other maritime resources, travel, exports and imports.”

The flotilla plans to donate its boats to the local community upon arrival. Israel began enforcing the illegal blockade of Gaza in 2006, after the Palestinian Authority lost the election to Hamas, as punishment to Palestinians.

The flotilla has plans to stop at ports in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. According to passenger and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity-member Elizabeth Murray, the flotilla hopes “to raise awareness and educate people about the plight of Palestinians, especially in Gaza, who are denied the basic freedoms and human rights the rest of us take for granted.”

A new Israeli pretext for the same old aggressive behavior

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the airstrikes were carried out in response to a group breaking through the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday and subsequently setting a military post on fire. The IDF said locations “belonging to the Hamas terror organization’s naval force” and “underground terror infrastructure” were targeted in the strikes.

Locals claim the boat was targeted because it was planning to meet the flotilla on its way to Gaza. Israel maintains a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has prevented aid flotillas carrying food and basic humanitarian supplies like toilet paper, clean water, and school items like crayons and pencils from reaching shore during previous attempts to help the nearly 1.8 million Palestinians affected by the siege.

In recent years numerous attempts have been made to reach the Gaza Strip by boat but the vessels have always been seized or forced to turn back by Israel — the most notable example being the assault on the Freedom Flotilla originating from Turkey in 2010.

Participating in the flotilla were 600 aid workers and NGO officials from 50 different countries, shepherding a cargo of 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid set on reaching Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea.

In the early morning hours on May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla of ships while it was in international waters. Some of the unarmed passengers resisted Israel’s attempt to hijack the ships, resulting in a firefight that killed nine Turkish citizens and injured nearly 50 additional passengers. Israel blocked the ship’s radio communications during the attack.

Immediately following the attack, the flotilla was escorted into an Israeli port, where passengers were held in detention facilities before being deported.

On May 15 of this year, the flotilla’s three ships left Gothenburg, Sweden after a solidarity ceremony involving hundreds of activists in honor of Nakba Day, marking the 70th anniversary of the forced displacement of Palestinians. The three ships, Al-AwdaHeria and Maird, will be joined by a fourth ship, Palestine, in the coming weeks.

According to the coalition’s website, the flotilla is being led by a fishing boat “named Al-Awda (The Return) to underline the importance of this long-standing demand of Palestinians for the right to return to the lands they have been expelled from.”

The journey is expected to take approximately 75 days.

  • Lili-Ann Berg

    As much as I admire the bravery of the people aboard the Freedom Flotilla, I cannot see how their well-intended undertaking is going to succeed against the power and inhumanity of the Israeli military machine. Supported as it is by the criminal West and its hypocritical allegiance to the so called “Holy Land”, There is nothing holy about the way the people of Gaza are deprived, tortured and murdered on a daily basis. For what? For the almighty dollar, for oil, gas and insatiable human greed. Only one country, as far as I know, has officially acknowledged Palestine as a sovereign State. Sweden.

    In some 75 days this year’s freedom flotilla will reach Israeli waters – are we all going to sit idly and watch the bloodbath on our TV screens or are we going to risk being branded anti-Semites and raise our voices in support of the people of Gaza?

  • kevinzeese

    Challenging Israel is a success. They may not get supplies to Gaza but more people will become award of the vicious Israeli blockade. More people will oppose the occupying power of Israel. Every conflict moves us forward.

  • Robert H. Stiver

    A “Bravo!” comment! Thank you. I would augment your “For the almighty dollar, for oil, gas and insatiable human greed.”: for the pure evil vindictiveness and glee of the victim-become-the-ultimate-victimizer, with accustomed impunity at that.