'Freedom Flotilla' to sail from Europe to Gaza in bid to break blockade

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition held meetings planning their next protests against the Israeli naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Flotilla meeting in London (photo credit: FREEDOM FLOTILLA COALITION)
Flotilla meeting in London
(photo credit: FREEDOM FLOTILLA COALITION)

Members of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have held meetings in London to plan the next flotilla from Europe to Gaza, which is set to sail next year in an attempt to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

According to the coalition, the meeting was sponsored by the Palestinian Forum in Britain. It also said it was attended by representatives of the international coalition in multiple European countries, such as those from New Zealand, Malaysia, Turkey, Canada, the US and South Africa. The International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza also attended.

“Our goals remain full human rights for all Palestinians,” the group wrote on its official website about its next flotilla. “In particular, freedom of movement within historic Palestine and the right of return."

“This work includes amplifying Palestinian voices... While some of our partner organizations are actively involved with important programs addressing the most urgent needs of Palestinian children traumatized by the blockade and murderous Israeli attacks on Gaza, we recognize that a lasting solution requires an end to the blockade.”

“This work includes amplifying Palestinian voices... While some of our partner organizations are actively involved with important programs addressing the most urgent needs of Palestinian children traumatized by the blockade and murderous Israeli attacks on Gaza, we recognize that a lasting solution requires an end to the blockade.”

Freedom Flotilla Coalition
PRO-PALESTINIAN activists wave Turkish and Palestinian flags during the welcoming ceremony for the ‘Mavi Marmara,’ in Istanbul in December 2010. Nine Turkish activists died the previous May when IDF naval commandos stopped the ship. (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)PRO-PALESTINIAN activists wave Turkish and Palestinian flags during the welcoming ceremony for the ‘Mavi Marmara,’ in Istanbul in December 2010. Nine Turkish activists died the previous May when IDF naval commandos stopped the ship. (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)

Who is the Freedom Flotilla Coalition? And what are flotillas?

Formed in 2010, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition claims it is a “people-to-people solidarity movement composed of campaigns and initiatives from different parts of the world, working together to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza,” according to its site.

It also says it stands against  the blockade and is “governed by the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance.”

On the site, it has a link that sends readers to its research and information on past flotillas and lawsuits against the Israeli government.

For 10 years, 16 flotillas were sent to Gaza, with only eight making it to the coastal enclave in 2008. Israel started blocking flotilla arrivals in 2009.

In May 2010, after multiple warnings, IDF naval forces intercepted six flotillas that were on their way to Gaza. The flotilla was sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement (FDM), several European Palestinian solidarity organizations and Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), an Istanbul-based Islamic charity fund that has ties to Hamas.

Members on board one of the flotillas, the Mavi Mamara, attacked the IDF with weapons. As a result of the attack, nine flotilla members were killed and another dozen wounded.

Seven Israeli soldiers were also wounded during the attack. The other five flotilla ships did not engage in fighting with the IDF. Instead, they sailed to the Port of Ashdod and were all deported back to their home countries.