The one ship from the Freedom Flotilla that managed to elude a blockade by the Greek government is nearing the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to break the Israeli-imposed naval blockade and to bring a message of ‘peace, hope and solidarity’ to the people of Gaza.Israeli officials have vowed to stop the ship from entering the port of Gaza, and have deployed militarized battleships and readied helicopters, commandoes and water cannons to stop the ship. Last year, Israeli forces attacked a flotilla of aid ships while it was still in international waters, and killed nine aid workers on board.
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon claimed Monday that the attempt to enter Gaza via sea was a ‘breach of international maritime law’, but the activists with the Freedom Flotilla challenge that claim, saying that they are within their rights to enter Gaza and expect Israeli forces to respect the humanitarian nature of their mission, and allow them to enter Gaza unimpeded.
The ship, commissioned by French activists and dubbed the ‘Dignite al-Karama’, left Greece on Sunday bound for Alexandria, Egypt. On Tuesday morning at 6:30 am the ship left Egypt and headed toward Gaza. A second ship that had planned to accompany the Dignite, the Greek/Swedish/Norwegian ship MV ‘Juliano’, was prevented by Greek authorities from leaving port, and the Dignite had to continue its voyage to Gaza as the sole emissary of the 1,000 activists and 12 ships that had originally planned to go to Gaza on the ‘Freedom Flotilla II’.
The humanitarian aid purchased by activists from 20 countries for the people of Gaza was also prevented from leaving Greece.
Now, the ten dignitaries and supporters on the Dignite al-Karama are the only representatives of the flotilla that have managed to sail toward Gaza. They anticipate reaching Gazan territorial waters by noon on Tuesday.