by Latoya Peterson
On Memorial Day, twitter was abuzz with news about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and what happened. Mainstream media, not so much.
Here’s a quick run down for those not familiar with the chain of events.
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is a part of the Free Gaza movement. The boat trips were designed as an act of international civil disobedience to challenge the State of Israel’s blockade which prevents ship travel into Gaza. According to the Free Gaza’s “A Simple Idea” section:
The Free Gaza Movement began in the Fall of 2006 with a simple idea: Instead of waiting for the world to act, we would sail to Gaza ourselves, and directly challenge the Israeli siege ourselves. For almost two years, Free Gaza activists in Australia, Britain, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United States worked to raise money, locate ships and crew, and train and organize for our first attempt to break through Israel’s blockade. By August 2008 we were ready, and we sailed to Gaza in two, small, wooden fishing boats: the FREE GAZA and the LIBERTY.
Since then we have continued to sail to besieged Gaza, bringing in human rights workers and lawyers, journalists, academics, and parliamentarians, as well as several tons of desperately needed humanitarian aid. We are students and teachers, human rights observers and aid workers, lawyers, medics, activists – parents and grandparents. We are of all ages and backgrounds, from countries all across the world. We will go to Gaza again and again and again. We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and direct action.
We will continue to challenge Israel’s illegal closure of the Gaza Strip and collective punishment of its civilian population until the Israeli siege is forever broken and the people of Gaza have free access to the rest of the world.
The Guardian has posted a Q & A about the flotilla, which reads:
What was the aim of the Gaza Freedom flotilla?
The Free Gaza movement says it was intended to deliver aid to Gaza to get around the Israeli blockade and “to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation”. The movement is an international coalition of pro-Palestinian human rights organisations and activists. It has been endorsed by Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky and counts on the support of a number of Jewish groups that campaign for the rights of Palestinians.
Israel‘s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, said: “The armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organisation was a premeditated and outrageous provocation. The organisers are well-known for their ties to global Jihad, al-Qaida and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror. On board the ship we found weapons that were prepared in advance and used against our forces. The organisers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.”
Israel has singled out the Turkish-based Insani Yardim Vakfi or IHH (“humanitarian relief fund”) as a radical Islamic organisation.
The boat was filled with both aid and an international group of activists, many of whom had protested directly on the ground in Gaza or had joined the 2008 flotillas.
On Sunday night, Israel made the decision to storm the vessel, with lethal results. Continue reading