Democracy Now! produced and broadcast a video today of an exclusive tour of the US boat The Audacity of Hope, part of the upcoming second Freedom Flotilla due to sail to the occupied Gaza strip in an attempt to break the 4-year-old Israeli siege. Yonatan Shapira, Israeli solidarity activist and boat crew member, gave Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Hany Massoud the tour from an undisclosed port location.
From Democracy Now!:
Organizers of the humanitarian flotilla to the Gaza Strip say another one of their ships has been sabotaged. The engine of an Irish ship docked in Turkey was reportedly so badly damaged it would have sunk in the middle of the ocean, threatening the lives of the passengers on board. It’s at least the second flotilla vessel to be targeted this week following damage to a Greek-Swedish ship docked in a port near Athens.
Activists have accused Israel of orchestrating the sabotage, but say they have no direct proof. The Israeli government is trying to stop the ships from leaving port and has vowed to intercept them should they set sail. An Israeli official quoted in the Jerusalem Post said, the more “[they] have to run in place in Athens, the better it is for Israel.”
One of the ships in the 10-vessel flotilla is the U.S.-based “The Audacity of Hope,” named after President Obama’s best-selling book. At least three dozen U.S. citizens are on board, carrying letters from Americans to the people of Gaza. Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté and videographer Hany Massoud are in Greece to cover The Audacity of Hope’s journey.
On Wednesday, Yonatan Shapira — a former Israeli Air Force pilot turned peace activist who is now a crew member on the U.S. boat — gave Democracy Now! a rare look inside the ship and talked about the threat of sabotage. “I see it as an obligation of me as an Israeli and a Jew to help steer the wheel of this boat into Gaza in order to challenge these war criminals, and to send this message to the Palestinian people, to the Palestinian children in Gaza and the rest of the world, that they are not alone and we support them, and one day, they will be free,” Shapira said.