Gaza flotilla activists planning series of aid ships over coming months
In light of the previous flotilla's failure earlier this year, organizers have been operating quietly in an effort to avoid bureaucratic delays and Israeli efforts to stop the operation, says Huwaida Arraf.
The two-ship flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip is the first in a series of small flotillas scheduled to arrive over the next few months, according to one of the organizers.
Huwaida Arraf of the Free Gaza movement, speaking yesterday from Ramallah, where she is staying temporarily, said that in light of the previous flotilla's failure to reach Gaza earlier this year, organizers have been operating quietly in an effort to avoid bureaucratic delays and Israeli efforts to stop the operation.
"We want to let the world know that the people of Gaza are still suffering under a cruel and criminal blockade," Arraf said. "The name Freedom Waves indicates that we will keep coming, wave after wave, by air, sea, and land, to challenge Israel's illegal policies towards Gaza and all of Palestine. Our movement will not stop or be stopped until Palestine is free."
Two boats carrying 27 activists and journalists (12 from Ireland and the rest from the United States, Canada, Morocco and other countries) left Turkey Wednesday and reached international waters yesterday. Most of their cargo consists of medical supplies.
Majd Kyal, a political activists from Haifa and the only Palestinian on the flotilla, said yesterday in a conversation with Radio Alshams that both ships are small and are bringing to the world a clear message about the need to lift the blockade on Gaza. He said that the passengers cannot give an accurate estimated time of arrival due to weather conditions and other issues.
"For now we're in international waters. Our intention is to go straight from international waters to the Gaza beaches," Kyal said. He emphasized that the organizers are aware of the possibility of being stopped by the Israel Navy and are not looking for a confrontation.
Ehab Lotayef, one of the Canadian organizers, said yesterday that the ship is "halfway to Gaza" and should arrive at its destination "within the next two days." Speaking with Haaretz via satellite phone onboard the ship named Tahrir, Lotayef said the activists are still contemplating their strategy in the event they are contacted by the Israel Defense Forces.
"We might speed up a bit, we might slow down a little, but there will be no violence from our side," he said.
"I don't have illusions that our mission will end all the problems tomorrow, but we are using any tool to call attention to the suffering of people in Gaza. We came to deliver a clear message: The blockade of Gaza is illegal and inhumane. It should end," Lotayef added.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: חיל הים נערך להשתלט על המשט הצפוי להגיע לעזה