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By Huwaida Arraf

London – 14 May 2010 – At 22:45 local time tonight, the MV Rachel Corrie, a 1200-ton cargo ship, part of the eight-vessel Freedom Flotilla, set sail from Ireland on its way to the Mediterranean Sea.  Three, ships from Turkey and Greece will join her, then sail to Gaza.

This past week reports from Israel have indicated that the Israeli authorities will not allow the Freedom Flotilla to reach Gaza with its cargo of much-needed reconstruction material, medical equipment, and school supplies. According to Israeli news sources, clear orders have been issued to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza, even if this necessitates military violence.

The Free Gaza Movement, which has launched eight other sea missions to Gaza, confirms that Israel has tried these kinds of threats and intimidation tactics before in order to try to stop the missions before they start. “They have not deterred us before and will not deter us now,”  said one of the organizers.

Ship to Gaza — Sweden, a Freedom Flotilla coalition partner, together with parliamentarian Mehmet Kaplan (Green Party) yesterday asked for an audience with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Carl Bildt, to discuss what measures the Swedish government and the European Union will take to protect the Freedom Flotilla’s peaceful, humanitarian voyage. Earlier this week during a meeting with the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza – another coalition partner, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan expressed his support for “breaking the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip…which is at the top of Turkey’s list of priorities.“

Coalition partners, Ship to Gaza – Greece and the Turkish relief organization IHH, stressed that the ships, passengers, and cargo will be checked at each port of departure, making it clear that we constitute no security threat to Israel.

Israel’s threats to attack unarmed civilians aboard vessels carrying reconstruction aid are outrageous and indicative of the cruel and violent nature of Israel’s policies towards Gaza.  The Freedom Flotilla is acting in line with universal principals of human rights and justice in defying a blockade identified as illegal by the UN and other humanitarian organizations. Palestinians in Gaza have a right to the thousands of basic supplies that Israel bans from entering, including cement and schoolbooks, as well as a right to access the outside world. The Freedom Flotilla coalition calls on all signatories to the Fourth Geneva Conventions to pressure Israel to adhere to its obligations under international humanitarian law, to end the lethal blockade on Gaza, and to refrain from attacking this peaceful convoy.



The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is comprised of: Free Gaza Movement (FG), European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), Ship to Gaza Greece, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and the International Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza, with hundreds of groups and organizations around the world supporting the effort.

www.freegaza.org www.savegaza.eu www.ihh.org.tr
www.shiptogaza.gr www.shiptogaza.se

5 Comments

  1. Earlaiman on the 15. May, 2010 remarked #

    That is a smart looking little vessel… the kind every Captain dreams of sailing. May she always sail in calm and peaceful waters, and may she and her crew thrive upon the sea.

    All International accords regarding the High Seas guarantee freedom of passage for all vessels of all nations.

    This flotilla will be flying a number of sovereign flags on the various ships.

    Will none of those countries send an escort with their national ensigns flying to guarantee freedom of passage?

    Has not one of them the courage which it will take to confront the b*st*rds?

    We can expect nothing from the US, the UK, Australia or Canada, and very little from any Western European country, all of whom are in thrall of Israel, and that “mysterious” nuclear arsenal.

    It would be nice if the US were to simply announce that an aircraft carrier would be in the vicinity of the flotilla to provide aircovered insurance of freedom of passage, but we know that is a dream.

    Just where are those weapons stored? In suitcases hidden away in London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Sydney, Quebec, and Brussels?

    But Mr. Erdogan, has shown some spine, made some brave speeches and walkabouts and outs lately, and both he and Russia have Navys!

    Will neither of them send an escort?

    Yeah, I know … it’s Texas Showdown Poker, and the dealer has his sixgun pointing at everyone under the table, but is he bluffing, or is he not?

    Will no one call his hand?

    If not, he will win, and walk away with the entire pot!

    There will not even remain a bag for us to be left holding!

    May you all sail safely in the Hands of God, your Ultimate Escort.

    Earlaiman

  2. Pia Qu on the 15. May, 2010 remarked #

    All the day yesterday I checked the news again and again, waiting to hear you left :)

    Now you’ve left and my best wishes goes to you and all people waiting in Gaza.

    I’m waiting to hear the message from Israel that the blockade is lifted, – it’s only chance to rewin a little bit of respect. And in my opinion it would be the most intelligent decision!

    Very nice comment from Earlaiman :)

  3. Jim on the 16. May, 2010 remarked #

    Courage, like love is subject to interpretation. In my book, there can be no greater courage than to confront the evil that has been allowed to happen in Gaza for far too long!
    Please take care my brave ones, you are confronting evil that knows no restraint. My thoughts are with you and I wish you godspeed. The eyes of the world are on you.

  4. Phillip F Tourney on the 16. May, 2010 remarked #

    Debbie,
    The name is fitting for a Queen she is a smart looking vessel that can carry hope, humanity in her hull, to help the sick, the hungry, the wounded.

    I have hope her voyage will be smooth sailing, clear skies, calm winds, natures way of a fine welcome to her final destination.

    My guess is the demons of hate and lust have boastfully said will run over Rachel Corrie once again and call it in the best interest of the beast,
    Israel the father of all beasts.

    Phillip F Tourney
    USS Liberty Survivor
    Author ‘WHAT I SAW THAT DAY’

  5. ben benar on the 16. May, 2010 remarked #

    What a fitting name for that vessel of compassion. May the evil ones repent and take to heart this verse:

    Joh 15:13 –
    And here is how to measure it – the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.

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