As we commemorate World Solidarity Day with Gaza, we remember the events that occurred exactly six years ago on the Mavi Mara Flotilla. While on enroute to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade, the Flotilla was attacked by Israeli forces resulting in the death of nine people aboard the vessel. A tenth person died four years later from injuries sustained during the attack.
Today in Brussels, a press conference was held by the organizers of the 2016 Freedom Flotilla, which is due to set sail at an unspecified date in September from a European port.
“We are in Brussels with the coalition members to further our plans to set sail to Gaza with the Women’s boat to Gaza in mid-September, and we have been meeting with our members and with members of the European parliament to gain support,” says Wendy Goldsmith, a member of the Steering Committee for the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.
She said that the press conference was hosted to confirm that the organization is moving forward with its plans.”
While the exact date of departure is unknown, Wendy says that the Flotilla is earmarked to sail to a number of ports in the Mediterranean, including Italy and France.
The route was carefully chosen in a bed to raise awareness about the issue, after which the Flotilla will set sail for the Gaza Strip, with hopes that the crew will reach the shores of Gaza by October 1, 2016.
Confirmed delegates who will be on the Flotilla includes; Nobel Laureate and peace activist from Northern Ireland Mariead Maguire, parliamentary member of New Zealand’s Green Party Marama Davidson, and member of Knesset Haneen Zoabi.
Other delegates will be announced in the coming weeks.
“We are in the process of recruiting prominent women who will be able to raise awareness in their own countries and draw attention to Gaza,” Goldsmith added.
“Today we hope that we are going to gain more support for people from the European parliament. What has happened on past flotillas once the people have boarded the boats is when people speak out against violations of international law. What we are hoping this time is that we will have people speaking out earlier,” Goldsmith continued.
The Gaza Strip has been under siege for the past ten years, but some have argued that the blockade of the Gaza Strip has been going on for much longer, since perhaps the first Intifada. Israel has limiting both export and import of goods, which are considered the necessary for the socioeconomic well-being of those who live within the Strip.
The organizers of the 2016 Flotilla, therefore, aims to bring much needed supplies to the Gaza Strip in an effort to assist the confined Palestinian population.
As a result of continued military onslaughts, activists from all over the world have called for an end to the siege on Gaza, which is having a negative psychological and socioeconomic impact on the besieged population.
The UN has warned that if the current blockade continues in what has been termed the world largest open prison, the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by 2020.
VOC (Umarah Hartley)