Freedom Flotilla Sets Sail to Challenge Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

A four-ship Freedom Flotilla has set sail for the Gaza Strip to challenge Israel’s decade-old blockade of the besieged territory.

The Al-Awda, Arabic for The Return, vessel set sail a week ago from Norway and linked up with three other boats in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday, before beginning a tour of European ports which will end in the Gaza Strip.

A statement said:

The boat was named to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, in which more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forcibly expelled from their homes during the establishment of the Israeli state.

A spokesperson of the flotilla told Al Araby Al Jadeed that the participants want to send a message that:

This year’s freedom flotilla comes just weeks after Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators in Gaza protesting for the right of return, killing more than 60.

The blockade of Gaza is in its 11th year. It is such a gross violation of international law that it can be characterized as a crime against humanity, participant Mikkel Gruner, a Danish national who is city councilor in Bergen, Norway, said.

Volunteers will join the multinational fleet for different legs of the journey, with a select group assigned to participate in the final run to Gaza.

The flotilla schedule will be kept confidential to guard against interference. In the past, mechanical failures have affected previous flotilla attempts, with allegations Israel may have tampered with the ships.

Source: Palestine Chronicle