Residents of the Gaza Strip and several humanitarian institutions are preparing to receive the “The Freedom Flotilla,” the largest convoy of solidarity ships yet, expected to arrive by Friday. Israel is threatening to intercept the convoy and prevent it, by any means, from reaching Gaza. Last year, Israel prevented several ships from reaching Gaza. The Israeli military boarded some ships and detained activists and media personnel for several days. Israel is still holding two ships, part of the Dignity Campaign, and refuses to release them.
Despite Israel’s warnings, preparations in Gaza continue. The Ministry of Labor started the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Fishermen’s Port, which has been targeted repeatedly by the Israeli military.
The activists and human rights group representatives sailing the Flotilla are determined to reach the Gaza shore to deliver humanitarian supplies to the besieged coastal region.
The Freedom Flotilla consists of nine ships; one funded by Kuwait, flying the Turkish and Kuwaiti flags, one funded by Algeria, one by Sweden, one by Greece, and six passenger ships. One of the passenger ships bears the name ‘Eight Thousand,’ referring to the number of detainees imprisoned by Israel.
The Flotilla is carrying 750 activists from 70 countries. Among them are 44 official figures, including European and Arab members of parliament.
The ships are carrying 10,000 tons of medical supplies, construction materials and lumber, as well as 100 mobiles homes, and 500 electric wheelchairs.
1,419 Palestinians were killed during the war in Gaza last year and some 6,000 were wounded. Nearly 600 of the wounded are permanently disabled. Most of the casualties were civilians, mainly women, children and elderly.
Hanin Zo’by, an Arab member of Knesset from the National Democratic Assembly party, is participating in the humanitarian mission to Gaza.
She told the Arabs48 news website that the campaign is one of many attempts to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza while the International Community is idle.
Zo’by stated that the ships do not only carry humanitarian support to Gaza, but are part of an international effort and a continuously increasing international struggle that views Israel as an occupying power, adding that Israel’s siege on Gaza is a crime and a means to force the Palestinians to surrender and bow to their occupiers.
“Israel is trying to convince itself that it ended its occupation on Gaza,” Zo’by said. “At the same time, it is imposing a strict siege on the region, and preventing the entry of basic humanitarian supplies.”
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