Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 to sail with Turkish group’s support, but without Mavi Marmara

“Our destination is Gaza. Our means are non-violent. Our goal is to lift the illegal siege, completely and permanently and freedom for the Palestinian people.” So says a press release sent by IHH, the Turkish charitable organization that is part of the international coalition planning to set sail for Gaza near the end of this month.

But the largest and most famous ship, the Mavi Marmara, will not go. It was aboard the Mavi Marmara that Israeli commandos killed 9 activists and injured dozens of others when they attacked the previous flotilla in international waters on 31 May 2010. But, the press release affirms, IHH will remain part of the new flotilla effort:

With national campaigns in over 20 countries and around 10 ships being readied, Freedom Flotilla 2—Stay Human is on track to sail to Gaza to break the illegal Israeli blockade. The Turkish aid organization IHH remains part of the flotilla, even though the Mavi Marmara is unable to sail.

The full text of the press release is below.

Speculation about whether the Turkish contingent would join the flotilla had been rife in recent weeks after Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had publicly suggested that flotilla organizers should “wait and see” how conditions develop with Egypt’s supposed easing of border restrictions before setting sail.

Turkey has also reportedly been under intense pressure from the United States to stop the flotilla. The Turkish government has stressed that IHH is an independent organization and it cannot impose a decision on the group.

Israel has stepped up its own propaganda efforts against the flotilla warning in recent days that it would once again use force to stop any ships reaching Gaza.

More than thirty American activists are joining the flotilla, aboard the Audacity of Hope, sponsored by US Boat to Gaza. The US State Department has condemned their effort, declaring, “groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions.”

International officials, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have succumbed to American and Israeli pressure, publicly urging governments to halt ships leaving their shores. Such officials have argued that the flotilla is unnecessary, because “established channels” exist to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The IHH press release strongly rejected such reasoning:

The so-called “established channels” for delivering aid to Gaza, referred to by global leaders seeking to stop our mission, do not allow for the needs of the people of Gaza to be met due to Israel’s many restrictions, nor do they permit freedom for Palestinians.

Nowhere else in the world are people required by the international community to accept humanitarian aid instead of freedom. And even that humanitarian aid is not forthcoming, owing to Israel’s blockade.

Previously, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has declared Israel’s five year blockade of the Gaza Strip to be illegal “collective punishment.”

Press release issued by IHH on 17 June 2011

FREEDOM FLOTILLA II-STAY HUMAN WILL SAIL TO GAZA!

PRESS RELEASE

Istanbul, 17.6.2011

This is a rainbow coalition of human rights defenders. It does not only concern Muslims, but everyone, be they Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, secular or whatever.

This is world citizenry united.

Our destination is Gaza. Our means are non-violent. Our goal is to lift the illegal siege, completely and permanently and freedom for the Palestinian people. With national campaigns in over 20 countries and around 10 ships being readied, Freedom Flotilla 2—Stay Human is on track to sail to Gaza to break the illegal Israeli blockade. The Turkish aid organization IHH remains part of the flotilla, even though the Mavi Marmara is unable to sail.

There is no doubt about the need for the flotilla.

Israel’s policy of collective punishment remains intact.

The so-called “established channels” for delivering aid to Gaza, referred to by global leaders seeking to stop our mission, do not allow for the needs of the people of Gaza to be met due to Israel’s many restrictions, nor do they permit freedom for Palestinians.

Nowhere else in the world are people required by the international community to accept humanitarian aid instead of freedom. And even that humanitarian aid is not forthcoming, owing to Israel’s blockade. This month, the health authority in Gaza proclaimed a state of emergency due to an acute shortage of vital medicines. Approximately 178 types of medications and 123 types of medical supplies have run out, and an additional 69 types of medications and 70 types of medical supplies are expected to run out within the next three months.

A few days ago, 46 Palestinian civil society organizations announced their full support of the Freedom Flotilla 2.

The fact that the Mavi Marmara will not participate in the FF2, means that the misinformation put forward by the Israeli government and its supporters that the flotilla is a “Turkish” and “Islamist” effort will be completely exposed. Hundreds of people from around the world are sailing to break the blockade on Gaza.

Freedom Flotilla 2 will include more ships than the first flotilla, even without the Mavi Marmara. Moreover, the coalition consists of significantly more member organizations this time, from all over Europe, North America, the Middle East and North Africa.

Our destination is Gaza. Our means are non-violent. Our goal is to lift the illegal siege, completely and permanently.

The International Coalition of Freedom Flotilla II

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Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

The Electronic Intifada contributor Alex Kane wrote on his blog yesterday about a US senator’s proposal to send in the US Navy to help Israel intercept the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and to put the Turkish civil society organization IHH on the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

As Alex comments, US Senator Mark Kirk (who is unfortunately one of my senators) “would have no problem, it seems, with the U.S. Navy being deployed against U.S. citizens aiming to break the blockade, which has been termed “collective punishment” by the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

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The Jews have a long list of wrongs committed against them that includes our own government which did not allow Jewish refugees to land in USA in l943. Let us have the audacity of hope to think we are better to our fellow man now. Let us hope Israel will not shoot.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.