The Prime Minister of Malaysia voiced his support for the upcoming ‘Freedom Flotilla’ of aid ships and 500 supporters from around the world who plan to enter Gaza by sea on June 27th. A ship from Malaysia joins two new French ships added to the roster of a dozen ships set to sail to Gaza next week.Israeli commandoes have been preparing for the flotilla with war games and new weaponry, including a high-powered water cannon which they plan to fire at the aid ships to prevent them from entering Gaza. Although Israel faced criticism worldwide for its attack on the aid flotilla last year which killed nine aid workers, no changes have been made in Israeli policy and no one has faced charges for the killings.

The two French boats, announced on Sunday, will carry around 40 passengers, including legislators, entertainers and sports stars from France. The flotilla will include ships from the US, England, Estonia, Sweden, Latvia, Portugal, Australia, Kuwait and Portugal, in addition to the French and Malaysian ships.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told a crowd of flotilla supporters in a stadium in Kuala Lampur, “As long as the Palestinian people are oppressed, we will take it upon ourselves to fight for them. We should, even if the world does not.” He said that he will look into a request by the flotilla participants to have the United Nations examine the contents of the ships on the flotilla prior to their departure from Gaza, to pre-empt any claims by the Israeli government that the ships are carrying anything other than their inventoried and inspected loads of humanitarian aid and workers.

The Freedom Flotilla aims to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, imposed four years ago in June 2007. According to the organizers of the Flotilla, “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.”

46 Palestinian aid organizations reiterated their support for the flotilla in a signed statement made earlier this week.