Pro-Palestinian groups plan largest Gaza flotilla ever

Convoy of ships is expected to arrive in Gaza on the anniversary of the Israeli raid on the "Mavi Marmara," in May.

mavi marmara 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
mavi marmara 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
International pro-Palestinian groups are preparing a massive flotilla of ships to the Gaza Strip in the spring, to coincide with the first anniversary of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara in late May, organizers said on Monday.
The convoy will be named “Freedom Flotilla 2” and is expected to include delegations from close to a dozen countries including, for the first time, vessels from the US and Canada.
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According to the organizers, the various groups are in the process of raising money, buying vessels and recruiting volunteers.
On Sunday, the Turkel Commission submitted a report to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that cleared the government and the Israel Navy of wrongdoing when lethal force was used to stop the Mavi Marmara from breaking the blockade on the Gaza Strip last May.
Dror Feiler, an Israeli- Swedish musician and artist who lives in Stockholm – and one of the organizers behind the new flotilla – said that the flotilla would try to reach Gaza on May 31, the same day that the Israel Navy stopped the Turkish flotilla last year.
The coalition behind the new blockade-busting effort includes the Turkish IHH and the Free Gaza Movement, both of which were involved in the May flotilla. It is demanding “an immediate and complete lifting of the closure, including a lifting of the travel ban as well as the ban on exports from Gaza.”
According to Feiler, the new flotilla will include activists from Norway, Spain, the US, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“The sea is not always predictable but our goal is to get there the same day or at least close to the same day as the last flotilla,” he said. “Our objective is to get Israel to lift the sea blockade over Gaza and we will keep on trying until we succeed.”
Huwaida Arraf, one of the heads of the Free Gaza Movement that organized the last flotilla with the Turkish IHH organization, said that Freedom Flotilla 2 would be “nonviolent” but would make every effort to reach the Gaza Strip.
“We are aware that Israel has attacked us in the previous times without justification.
Their blockade is illegal and just because they threaten to use force does not mean that we need to stay silent,” Arraf said.
“This is a nonviolent action.
The people of Gaza have the right for freedom and if Israel wants to use force against us and kill people like they did last time, then let that be out there for the whole world to see.”