A ship taking part in Freedom Flotilla III is set to dock in Bueu, Galicia, Spain Saturday in one of several stops before making a final voyage to the besieged Gaza Strip. Marianne will join other ships heading to Gaza in “a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip,” the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said. Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli-administered military blockade since 2007.
The Scandinavian trawler Marianne will stop in Spain for the five-year commemoration of a brutal attack on the first Freedom Flotilla in 2010, when Israeli naval forces killed ten human rights activists on board. The incident, which took place in international waters, sparked international outcry.
A second flotilla planned for 2011 was unable to reach Gaza after Greek authorities prevented the ships from leaving Athens.
The Freedom Flotilla’s Marianne set sail from Sweden earlier this month and is carrying a limited cargo of solar cell panels and medical equipment for the devastated Gaza Strip, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said after the ship’s initial departure.
It will carry a crew of five people as well as “up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route,” the FFC said, with these delegates to be announced along the way.
European MEP Ana Maria Miranda Paz will be one of the passengers when the boat leaves Galicia for Portugal. A range of other public figures are expected to participate in the flotilla, including former Tunisian President and human rights activist Muncef al-Marzouk.
The third Freedom Flotilla aims to bring supplies to the Gaza Strip, where conditions have deteriorated sharply following last summer’s 50-day Israeli assault, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and around 100,000 internally displaced. It was their third conflict in less than five years, following an eight-day bombardment in 2012 and a 22-day war in late 2008 and early 2009.
The Israeli blockade, worsened by ongoing closures of the Gaza-Egypt border by Egyptian Authorities, has created near-impossible conditions for reconstruction, astatement released by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in March reporting that, “In Gaza, the effects of the occupation, blockade and recurring military campaigns have devastated not only Palestine refugee homes, lives and income, but also hope for a secure and dignified future.”