Turkish Aid Convoy, Sails Away today…
[Istanbul, Turkey – 22 May, 2010] Amid cheers and waving of Turkish and Palestinian flags, the second ship to join the Freedom Flotilla left Istanbul this afternoon. Sponsored by the Turkish humanitarian organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the ship will carry 600 passengers to Gaza as part of the ‘blockade busting’ flotilla. It joins eight other boats coming from three other countries carrying 10,000 tons of supplies to the Palestinian people, supplies that have been denied to them by Israel. Boats will meet in the Mediterranean, then turn toward Gaza to arrive at its beseiged slice of beachfront by the end of May. Free Gaza Movement’s MV Rachel Corrie is already on her way from Ireland and is presently off the coast of Portugal loaded with cement, paper and supplies for school children and medical equipment.
John Ging, Director of United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip since 2006 said, “We recommend the world send ships to the shores of Gaza, and we believe that Israel would not stop these vessels because the sea is open, and many human rights organizations have been successful in previous similar steps, and proved that breaking the siege on Gaza is possible.”
Free Gaza Movement – Greta Berlin – +357 99187275 +357 99187275
Free Gaza Movement – Huwaida Arraf – +306983046697 +306983046697
ECESG – Mazen Kahel – +33 1 46 81 12 92 +33 1 46 81 12 92
IHH – Ahmet Emin Dag – +90 530 341 1934 +90 530 341 1934
Ship to Gaza /Greece – Vangelis Pissias – +30 697 200 9339 +30 697 200 9339
Ship to Gaza / Sweden – Dror Feiler – +46702855777 +46702855777
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.
Turkish aid ships set sail for Gaza, thousands of well wishers turned up to bid the activists farewell
PRESS TV reports A contingent of Turkish ships has set sail for the Gaza Strip in order to break the blockade of the region and deliver humanitarian aid to Gazans.
The three cargo vessels left Istanbul on Saturday to join an international fleet organized by the human rights organization, Free Gaza Movement.
The seaport was overwhelmed by thousands of well-wishers, who had come to show their support for the people of Gaza, Press TV correspondent Hassan Ghani reported.
Before departing, the organizers from different countries, including: Greece, Ireland and Sweden, outlined their reasons for joining the project and warned Israel not to interfere with the humanitarian act.
“Even if Israel stops us, if we have to swim, we will swim to Gaza,” said Noorazman Shamsuddin, one of the organizers.
The Israeli navy, which has prevented many ships from entering the coastal region, has told the aid vessels not to come to the Gaza Strip.
The Free Gaza Movement is coordinating with numerous pro-Palestinian groups in the Freedom Flotilla project. The nine-vessel flotilla is set to cast anchor at the docks of Gaza on Thursday.
The Freedom Flotilla convoy is carrying 5,000 tons of construction material, medical equipment, and school supplies, as well as around 600 people from 40 countries.
Since 2007, the siege of Gaza has deprived 1.5 million Palestinians of fuel, food, and other basic necessities.
MICHAEL JANSEN – Jerusalem reports [http://www.irishtimes.com/]
TRIPLE-DECK Turkish ferry received a grand send-off on Saturday as it left Istanbul to join the Freedom Flotilla of passenger and cargo vessels seeking to break Israel’s four-year-old blockade of Gaza. Thousands of Turks cheered as white doves of peace fluttered overhead. The ferry is carrying 600 activists as well as tonnes of cement, medical equipment and school supplies for Gaza.
The ferry and two Turkish cargo vessels are sponsored by a charity which enjoys the support of the Turkish government, and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Israel to allow the flotilla to reach Gaza.
The vessels are set to rendez- vous off Cyprus with four passenger vessels, two belonging to the Free Gaza Movement, which mounted five successful voyages to Gaza during 2008 – one from the European Campaign to the Siege, and one each from the Greek and Swedish Ship-to-Gaza organisations. On its way from Ireland is Free Gaza’s cargo vessel, Rachel Corrie , named for a young woman from the US crushed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza. Irish passengers include Nobel laureate Maireád Maguire, Chris Andrews (TD Dublin), Aengus Ó Snodaigh (TD Dublin) and Senator Mark Daly (Kerry).
Israel has vowed to prevent the flotilla from reaching Gaza and a fleet of private Israeli vessels set off from a marina near Tel Aviv to protest at its arrival. It is unlikely that the opposing vessels will meet, however, because Israel has imposed a 20 nautical mile closure on the Gaza coast.
Meanwhile in Gaza, the UN Relief and Works Agency protested at the vandalisation of one of its 35 holiday camp sites for 250,000 Palestinian refugee children. Irish national John Ging, the agency’s Gaza director, dubbed the incident “vandalism linked to extremism and an attack on the happiness of children”. Three bullets were left in an envelope for Mr Ging and other camp organisers.