19 Jun 2011

NEW FLOTILLA TO ATTEMPT TO ENTER GAZA

FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2011 09:00 PETER STANNERS NEWS : edited by : S W T Read

New flotilla of 20 boats and 1,000 activists hopes to deliver essential goods
During the first Freedom Flotilla, activists on board the MV Mavi Marmara died during clashes with Israeil security forces (Photo: Free Gaza Movement)


Activists from Denmark are joining a new flotilla of boats to the Palestinian Gaza Strip with the intention of breaking the Israeli blockade of the territory.
The flotilla is planned just over a year after nine civilians died onboard a boat from Turkey when it was raided by the Israeli military in a previous attempt to break the blockade.
The Danish organisation Free Gaza has together with activists from Australia, Belgium and Canada bought a boat and named it ‘Tahrir’, which means ‘freedom’ in Arabic.
They plan to set sail from Greece on June 25 to join the flotilla before sailing together to Gaza City, carrying construction materials and humanitarian goods.
"We have already gained a lot of support from all over the country," said John Ekebjærg-Jakobsen, a scaffolder and member of union 3F.
"What's important is that when we get to Gaza we can continue to support the work that is being done there. But first and foremost we need to break the Israeli blockade."
Israel has enforced the blockade in the past, stopping and boarding ships from entering waters off the Gaza Strip such as with the previous flotilla in May 2010.
“The Israelis know we are coming but we don’t need their permission to sail to Gaza,” Adam Qvist from Free Gaza said.
“We are going to sail from international waters into the Palestinian waters and Israel doesn’t have the right to stop us there.”

After the 2007 Battle of Gaza, which led to Hamas taking control of the territory, Israel imposed the blockade arguing it was necessary in order to prevent rocket attacks over the border.

Egypt’s land border with Gaza was also closed and strict restrictions were placed on what goods may flow in and out of the territory – all construction materials are barred from the territory and goods such as crayons and surfboards have also reportedly been rejected.

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