As the ‘Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human’ prepares to sail to Gaza with ten ships and 500 supporters from 20 countries on Tuesday, supporters from around the world have launched various actions in solidarity. At one such action, in Germany, several dozen activists sailed down Berlin’s canals with banner-covered boats, waving Palestinian flags in support of the Freedom Flotilla.The boats were draped with banners saying, “Fishing Under Fire”, “No Occupation”, and “Free Palestine”. One fishing boat was made to look like a Palestinian fishing boat, the type used by Palestinian fishermen for their livelihood. These boats are frequently attacked by Israeli naval vessels stationed just off the coast of Gaza, and dozens of fishermen have been killed and wounded, and their boats confiscated, by the Israeli navy.
Due to the Israeli siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Gazan fishing industry is less than one-fifth of what it was before the bloackade began in earnest in 2007.
The German protest was led by human rights activists, many of them Jewish, who support equal rights and freedom for the Palestinian people. The activists noted that the canal they were using for their action was the same one where anti-fascist organizer Rosa Luxembourg was assassinated and thrown in the canal in 1919.
According to witnesses, the boats were cheered on by onlookers from bridges and the shore, and the original ‘solidarity flotilla’ was joined by sympathetic boat captains who saw the banners being draped and said they’d like to support the cause.
The ‘Freedom Flotilla II’ is scheduled to leave Greece for Gaza on Tuesday, amidst threats by the Israeli and US governments that the boats will be stopped and seized, and the passengers arrested or attacked by the Israeli navy as they were last year, when Israeli commandoes dropped onto ‘Freedom Flotilla I’ and killed 9 human rights activists, mainly with gunshot wounds to the back and head.