Today, June 27th 2015 (4 am in Gaza), four boats of the 2015 the Freedom Flotilla III set sail from their final European points of departure. Through nonviolent resistance they will challenge the illegal blockade of the Palestinian Gaza strip, which is running on its 9th year, sailing as always from international waters directly into Palestinian waters.
The Flotilla is due to reach Gaza in just a few days. Participants on board include 48 people, among them human rights activists, journalists, artists, and political figures representing 17 countries. This is the third Freedom Flotilla to sail, in addition to nine single boats that have undertaken to sail to Gaza, beginning in 2008 when several voyages reached Gaza City harbour and returned to Europe from their mission of bringing supplies and solidarity to the people of Gaza.
A converted fishing trawler, the ‘Marianne of Gothenburg’ left Sweden in May to join the flotilla and has made numerous stops along its journey around Europe. Marianne is carrying solar panels that would help alleviate the serious problem of electricity in Gaza, as well .as medical equipment. Three other sailing vessels (Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II) are accompanying Marianne in its mission to break the blockade of Gaza, in solidarity to the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. With different strategies and different itineraries, we will continue to sail until the blockade is lifted and Gaza’s port is open.
Dr. Basel Ghattas, a member of the Israeli Knesset, is on board the ships, as well as Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, the first president after the 2011 popular uprising. Members of parliament from Spain, Jordan, Greece and Algeria are also on board together with members of European Parliament.
Four participants from Canada are on board : Robert Lovelace, member of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, Christian Martel, a trade-unionist and retired letter-carrier from Quebec City, Kevin Neish, an activist and marine engineer from Victoria in British Columbia, and Ehab Lotayef, an engineer and poet from Montreal. Ten participants and crew have been on previous missions. Media outlets on board the flotilla are Al Jazeera, Euronews, Maori TV (New Zealand), Al-Quds TV, Channel 2 TV (Israel) and Russia Today TV, as well as several independent print journalists.
Over 100 European Parliamentarians have signed a letter to the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, in support of the Freedom Flotilla and calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza. It’s time to say “enough is enough”, and that the international community stands in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza.
A full list of participants will be available soon at https://ff3.freedomflotilla.org/