New Gaza-bound 'Freedom Flotilla' expected to sail this summer
A new “Freedom Flotilla” is scheduled to embark for Gaza in two months’ time, organisers said on Tuesday.
The voyage is scheduled to begin in the first half of the year, which means the flotilla could set sail within weeks, Mazen Kahel, an organiser with the European Campaign to end the Siege on Gaza, told MEE.
Like its 2010 predecessor, this year's flotilla aims to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip which has been in place since 2007.
Former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki has given his “full support” to the mission. He is expected to take part and will be on one of the boats, several organisers have confirmed.
“Marzouki has always been engaged with the cause and has openly supported the Palestinians in his time of power,” Kahel told MEE.
Negotiations are currently underway with other political, religious and business figures, but their names have yet to be confirmed and will be announced at a later date, Kahel added.
Activists from across Europe, the US and the Middle East will participate in the flotilla, organised by a string of civil society groups and NGOs working under the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.
Three to four boats are currently undergoing preparation for the voyage, but several more could yet join. The boats are expected to depart from several European ports, including one in Greece and possibly Turkey, although no specific information is being released as yet.
For now, much of the information about the flotilla is being kept under wraps for security reasons, although more details are expected to emerge in the coming weeks.
“There is a huge problems there [in Gaza]. It is an open prison,” Kahel said.
“The situation there is unhuman. It is criminal and human beings cannot continue like this. We need to see an end to this blockade.”
The first flotilla that set sail in 2010 was attacked by Israeli soldiers in international waters. Nine activists were killed in the attack that sparked widespread international outrage.
A second flotilla was set to sail in 2011 but the voyage never materialised.