Following the attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara a week ago and the seizure of the crew and activists of the MV Rachel Corrie on Saturday, Lebanese, Palestinian, and foreign press based in Lebanon are together attempting to break through the blockade on Gaza by launching an aid boat early next week.
The "Naji Al-Ali" Flotilla will carry medical aid, food, educational tools as well as monetary funds. It is named after the late Palestinian political cartoonist and cultural icon.
Journalists Without Bounds (JWB), a Lebanon-based organization started in late 2009, aims to mobilize for a free and independent Lebanese/Arab Press, in conjunction with the local Filistin Hurra (FreePalestine) movement, have come together to represent the efforts of anyone in the region who wishes to participate in the Naji Al-Ali effort.
Ziad Itani, a freelance journalist with Al Akhbar and other newspapers in Lebanon and an organizer with Journalists Without Bounds, says: "we are not affiliated with the UN Reporters Without Borders organization but we welcome any foreign press participation. We are a local Lebanese effort working with both foreign and local organizations and press for the people of Gaza. We also wish that our effort echoes through the waters not only to Gazans but the entire free world."
The flotilla will include regional Arab voices as well:
"Many reporters, organizations and activists in the Arab region have contacted us and are eager to be part of this effort. We don't know if other Arab boats will head to Gaza but as the first ones to head out from here, we know that our boat is not only ‘from Lebanon' in that sense of the word," said Itani.
Itani said the number is growing beyond the 50 initial journalists on board and did not give a final number because he thinks it will grow proportionately each day. The contact info is: Tel: (Beirut) 71-699778 Beirut.
The Naji Al-Ali Flotilla plans to sail the Mediterranean towards Gaza. It will make a stop precisely where the first massacre occurred on board the MV Mavi Marmara where at least nine civilians were killed by Israeli Forces. A moment of silence and remembrance will be observed and then the boat will continue its course towards Gaza.
"We urge the world to help us launch this effort by direct donations to our account. People can donate directly for the rental of a ship or the educational tools for the children of Gaza," said Itani.
Donations from abroad can be made via Fransabank sal Beirut -- Lebanon Hamra Branch. The code is: FSABLBBX and the swift code is: LB 55000100032161150900301001.