Tag Archives: Freedom Flotilla

Gaza Flotilla activists to sue Israel at Int’l Criminal Court

12 Aug

MintPressNews report, Gaza, 11 August 2015

 Gaza Flotilla Activists to Sue Israel at International Criminal Court (ICC)

Mint Press News‘ “Behind the Headline” series hosted by Mnar Muhawesh conducted an exclusive interview with Kevin Neish, [see link above] survivor of the latest Freedom Flotilla aid ship. The Flotilla was headed to the besieged Gaza Strip when it was attacked and hijacked by Israeli soldiers in international waters.

It has been one year since Israel waged a war against the Gaza Strip in 2014 under Operation Protective Edge. Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed including over 500 children. The majority of victims were civilians and not Hamas fighters, whereas Israel’s casualties were mostly invading soldiers with less than five civilian casualties including the three kidnapped teens. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were left homeless and severe damage to essential infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. Gaza is often called the world’s largest open air prison.

Israeli soldiers of conscience anonymously blew the whistle on how they received order after order to deliberately target civilians without cause, challenging the mainstream media’s “human shields” myth. Israel had leveled entire towns and villages within Gaza. After all the bloodshed and destruction, Israel admitted that no one from Hamas were responsible for the 3 kidnapped Israeli teens after all. Netanyahu purposefully withheld the information from the grieving victims’ parents so that his government could mass murder Palestinians.

With estimates of rebuilding Gaza to its prior state being as high as 100 years, activists have taken it upon themselves to bring aid to Gaza since Israel’s blockade keeps out essential items for medicine, shelter, infrastructure, and food. A total of three Freedom Flotillas have set sail in attempts to break the blockade. Israel’s wanton, unprovoked and inhuman violence was exposed to the world. On the first voyage, 10 unarmed international aid workers did not return home as they were brutally murdered by IDF soldiers, some execution style.

Kevin Neish was on the 1st and 3rd Flotillas and helped to photograph the violence and many of the bodies of dead activists who just wanted to make life better for those who experience this type of violence on a daily basis for the past 60 years of the Israeli occupation.

In initial reports of the capture of the most recent Flotilla, the IDF lied and said they boarded the ship non-violently in an attempt to appear as if their behavior of non-violently breaking international law is a step up from murdering unarmed activists. Neish and other activists tell a different story of a hostile takeover of the ship, tasering, and illegal detention. This takeover occurred in international waters, proving Israel’s disregard for international law.

Like last time, Neish captured footage of the illegal raid and will once again present it to the International Criminal Court. He was detained in Israel for several days afterward and was abused by Israeli soldiers. IDF prison guards placed their own fecal matter on towels in the prison shower that Neish had hoped to use to dry himself.

Neish mentioned that the boat used for the Freedom Flotilla was of Swedish national origin, where the government recognized the state of Palestine. The ship did intend to legally enter the state of Palestine, instead of illegally entering Israel as the IDF claims. Also, Neish noted that Israel attacking the ship is tantamount to an act of war against Swedish soil.

The ICC dismissed the original case of the 10 murders on the first Flotilla, even though they admitted it was a war crime. The current appeal now has a much larger base of evidence including the legal equivalent of invading Swedish soil. If the ICC rejects it again, it will certainly bring up questions about the legitimacy & neutrality of the ICC, as if Israel’s blatant war crimes against Gaza aren’t sufficient grounds for international war crimes prosecution at The Hague.

Mavi_Marmara_side-400x268Image: MV Mavi Marmara

Mint Press News is an independent watchdog journalism organization that provides issue-based original reporting, in-depth investigations, and thoughtful analysis of the most pressing topics.

Freedom Flotilla to Gaza: What next?

10 Aug

 

Peter Larson talks with Freedom Flotilla III organiser, Ehab Lotoyef. [canadatalksisraelpalestine.ca]

MaoriTV journalist welcomed home after Israeli detention

2 Jul

FullSizeRender 4An ecstatic welcome home from MaoriTV colleague Adrian Stevanon.

MaoriTV senior journalist, Ruwani Perera arrived home to an ecstatic welcome from colleagues, family and friends at Auckland Airport this morning, after her ordeal following the hi-jacking of the Freedom Flotilla boat, the ‘Marianne’, in international waters and her subsequent detention and deportation. Happy to be home, she told well-wishers that the boarding and detention was “far from ‘uneventful'”, as described by Israeli authorities. [See earlier report on kiaoragaza.net]. Her MaoriTV cameraman, Jake Bryant, similarly detained & deported, has travelled to Europe for another assignment.

FullSizeRender 3

Ruwani shows her passport emblazoned with Israeli detention & deportation stickers. Her cell phone and other equipment was all confiscated by her Israeli jailers, and never returned.

FullSizeRender 2A warm airport welcome from Kia Ora Gaza chair, Roger Fowler. Kia Ora Gaza facilitated the opportunity for MaoriTV to cover the Freedom Flotilla III mission. We understand that MaoriTV plans to document the venture, with exclusive footage, to be aired sometime soon.

The truth comes out about Israel’s ‘uneventful’ piracy

2 Jul

Video that shows the violence used by Israeli commandos during the hi-jacking of ‘Mariane’ boat of Freedom Flotilla III on Monday. The footage shows Israeli Arab parliament member Basel Ghattas addressing the commandos with a loudhailer, former Tunisian president Dr Moncef Marzouki, and a flotilla crew being repeatedly tasered. Video from ReshetTV Israel. (Warning: footage may be disturbing.)

By Sarah Lazare, staff writer  Common Dream 1 June 2015

Rejecting Israeli Narrative, Freedom Flotilla Campaigners Say Tasers Were Part of Violent Assault on Ship

At least nine people from Sweden, Norway, and Canada remain in Israeli custody. Kiwi journalists have been released.

Directly contradicting initial reports from the Israeli Navy that the boarding of a Swedish vessel traveling to break the blockade of Gaza was an “uneventful” incident, campaigners reported Tuesday that several people on board, in fact, were violently treated and shot with tasers.

“At least four people were tasered and one was lightly wounded,” Loukas Stamellos, spokesperson for the global Freedom Flotilla Coalition, told Common Dreams over the phone from Athens, Greece. “We were questioning the military’s narrative before, but now we know at least some people were hurt and there was violence during the interception.”

The [above] video, just released by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, shows Swedish peace sailor Charlie Andreasson being tasered multiple times by an Israeli combatant, explained David Heap, spokesperson for the coalition. (Warning: footage may be disturbing.)

Basil Ghattas, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset who was on the Marianne,  confirmed to the Middle East Eye that the Israeli military’s takeover of the ship was indeed violent.

Staffan Granér, spokesperson for Ship to Gaza–Sweden, emphasized to Common Dreams: “It’s important to document the violence our activists suffer, but it is also really important to realize that this violence and these crimes are something that happens every day and every week in these waters to fishermen from Gaza.”

At least nine people from the international crew remain in Israeli custody after their ship was seized early Monday morning roughly 100 nautical miles from Gaza. A total of 18 people from around the world were on the vessel, and those who are not currently detained have been deported.

Campaigners argue that Israel’s seizure of the vessel—named Marianne of Gothernburg—in itself constitutes piracy and kidnapping, as the boat was in international waters.

Swedish officials echoed this argument. Veronica Nordlund, speaking on behalf of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, stated on Tuesday: “Granted the information we have been given, the Israeli navy intervention took place in international waters. According to law it’s only the flag state, in this case Sweden, who is allowed to act against another ship in international waters. Sweden has expressed their opinion on the event to Israel.”

The Marianne was sailing alongside three supporting vessels—Rachel, Vittorio, and Juliano II. Altogether the boats carried 47 people from 17 countries under the banner of “Freedom Flotilla III.”

Israel has a bloody history of attacking such vessels, including the 2010 assault on the Mavi Marmara ship sailing from Turkey that killed nine people and wounded dozens.

Despite the risks, global campaigners continue to sail in a symbolic show of solidarity and resistance to the blockade, which is politically and financially backed by the United States and enabled by the direct participation of Egypt.

The three supporting vessels in Freedom Flotilla III turned back to the Greek ports they embarked from following the Israeli military’s seizure of the Marianne. But global campaigners say they are already setting their sights on the next voyage.

Ehab Lotayef, a Montreal-based engineer and writer, is aboard one of the supporting boats in the Freedom Flotilla III that is currently en route to Greece. He passed along the message to Common Dreams: “We are proud of everyone who participated in Freedom Flotilla III, whatever their role. Now we are focusing on future flotilla to continue to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends completely and Palestinians regain their full rights.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

 

Detained Kiwi journalists ‘safe & well’ – due back tomorrow

30 Jun
Ruwani Perera

Statement from Maori Television, 30 June 2015

A Māori Television crew will be flown back from Israel after their boat was detained by the Israeli Navy while attempting to break the Gaza blockade.

Native Affairs senior reporter Ruwani Perera and cameraman Jacob Bryant, were invited to join the Freedom Flotilla FF3 as observers to document their quest by New Zealand organisation Kia Ora Gaza.

Head of News and Current Affairs Maramena Roderick says Ms Perera and Mr Bryant are both safe and well and are expected to arrive back in New Zealand tomorrow.

She says Māori Television staff are working with authorities at the New Zealand embassy in Ankara, Turkey to support the crew.

“Foreign Affairs says their embassy staff in Ankara had informed them that both Ruwani and Jacob have been treated well and with respect by local authorities.

“We appreciate the assistance of embassy officials to bring our crew home. The contingencies plans we had all worked so carefully on are now falling into place.”

Ms Roderick says the safety of our crew has and will always remain a priority for the network. “Our team is committed to their safe return home.”

From http://www.maoritelevision.com

Palestinian & Jewish groups in Israel support Freedom Flotilla

29 Jun

gaza_israel_protest_4605000 strong protest in Tel Aviv against Israel’s war on Gaza last year

Statement from Palestinian & Jewish organisations in Israel. Posted on freedomflotilla.org 28 June 2015.

Palestinian and Jewish Organizations and activists in Israel welcome the Freedom Flotilla and call to end the siege on Gaza

We, Palestinian and Jewish organizations and activists in Israel, oppose the Israeli policy of ongoing human rights violations, a policy that seeks to maintain its control through the siege that is strangulating the Palestinian people. The siege undermines the development of an independent economy and keeps Gazans under occupation, dependent on Israel for their most basic humanitarian needs. We support the struggle to end the occupation in the Palestinian territories, as well as the besieged Gaza strip. We support international solidarity, including the Gaza flotilla.

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Dr Marzouki & Israeli/Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas join flotilla to Gaza

28 Jun

VIDEO: Israeli/Arab lawmaker MK Basel Ghattas and former president of Tunisia, Dr Moncef Marzouki, transfer to the ‘Marianne’ boat before the Freedom Flotilla set sail for Gaza. Video includes brief interviews with both men. More info: http://ff3.freedomflotilla.org

 

 

Open letter to Murray McCully from Kia Ora Gaza

27 Jun

27 June 2015

Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs.

OPEN LETTER

Dear Sir,

I wish to draw to your attention, that two New Zealand journalists have joined other international media personnel on board the Freedom Flotilla III to observe and document this peaceful civil society mission to challenge the inhumane Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and to deliver some aid.

We urgently request the NZ Government to promptly call on the Israeli authorities to allow the Freedom Flotilla III boats safe passage to their destination.

Yours sincerely,

Roger Fowler QSM,
Chair,
Kia Ora Gaza
PO Box 86022,
Mangere East,
Auckland.
Website: http://www.kiaoragaza.net
Email: office@kiaoragaza.net

Gaza prepares to welcome Freedom Flotilla III

25 Jun

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Little fishing boats prepare for a huge welcome for the international flotilla in Gaza port.
Middle East Monitor report, 24 June 2015

Preparations are being made in Gaza coinciding with the countdown for the launch of the latest Freedom Flotilla. There are dozens of European activists, Arab figures and journalists aboard the five ships that make up the flotilla. According to the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), the ships have come from ports across Europe.

The Government Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza lit a torch to mark the sailing of Freedom Flotilla III, which is scheduled to reach Gaza port on Friday.

Alaa Al-Batta, head of the committee, told a press conference in the port on Tuesday that the final countdown has started and the flotilla is ready to set sail for Gaza, which has been besieged by Israel for nine years. “The Freedom Flotilla is only a few hours away from the Gaza seaport,” he said. “All Palestinians, across the spectrum, are standing here today to welcome and support the flotilla.” People from all over the world of all religions and ethnicities have gathered in solidarity out of their love for Palestine in an effort to lift the unjust siege, added Al-Batta.

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Flotilla ships gather before sailing to break Israel’s siege

25 Jun

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As global pressure and regional shifts undermine Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestine supporters from more than 20 countries are preparing for the latest attempt to defy it.

By Joe Catron @jncatron, MintPress News, 24 June, 2015

GAZA STRIP — A converted Swedish fishing trawler left the port of Messina in eastern Sicily late Friday evening, sailing into the Mediterranean to meet other vessels before they attempt to break Israel’s nautical blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“The goal is, as always, to challenge and eventually end the inhuman and illegal blockade of Gaza,” David Heap, a spokesperson for the Canadian Boat to Gaza, told MintPress News.

“Whether we reach our destination, as happened five times in 2008, or are stopped by the occupier, as has happened from 2010 to 2012, our course remains the same: the conscience of humanity.”

The Marianne of Gothenburg, which left its home port on May 10, publicized its voyage down the coast of Europe and into the Strait of Gibraltar through the organizations supporting it, Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway.

Other groups in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have declined to disclose their efforts, including the names and locations of vessels.

“There has been secrecy around details that might be relevant to efforts to obstruct the flotilla, as there usually are,” Robert Naiman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Boat to Gaza, told MintPress.

Heap says the high level of security within “Freedom Flotilla III” stems from past Israeli attempts to prevent similar projects.

“In 2011 some boats were sabotaged, and Greek coast guard authorities stopped some of our boats when Israel outsourced its blockade to European ports,” he told MintPress. “So we have learned to be cautious about what information we release when.”

He added that “more than 50 people from over 20 countries [are] on board or ready to board at least three vessels.”

With the Marianne now at sea, its final departure for Gaza is expected as soon as weather clears.

 CGWcZ5VUYAACTjKPalestinian children preparing a huge welcome for the Freedom Flotilla ships

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Freedom Flotilla update: ‘We’re on our way to Gaza’

24 Jun

1524889_10152806931535807_6850132549526053988_nOne of the Freedom Flotilla III organisers, well-known Swedish musician Dror Feiler, posted this photo from the helm of the ‘Marianne’ with the announcement on FaceBook yesterday: ‘On our way to Gaza’

AFP report, Jerusalem, 23 June 2015

Activists aboard a flotilla of boats are to soon set sail for Gaza in a fresh bid to break Israel’s blockade of the territory, five years after a similar attempt ended in a deadly raid.

The so-called Freedom Flotilla III – a convoy of ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists, at least one European lawmaker and an Arab-Israeli MP – will try to reach the shores of the Gaza Strip by the end of the month.

Their campaign comes as Israel faces heavy international pressure over its actions in Gaza, with a UN report released Monday saying both the Jewish state and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during last year’s conflict in the besieged coastal enclave.

Israel’s blockade of the territory dates to 2006, after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, and was tightened a year later when the Islamist movement consolidated control of Gaza.

“We’re not alone in considering the blockade to be inhumane and illegal,” Staffan Graner, an activist who is sailing aboard Swedish trawler the Marianne of Gothenburg, told AFP.

“What we want to do… is to keep up international pressure that the blockade should end,” he said.

The Marianne of Gothenburg, which set sail from Sicily on Friday, will join four other vessels carrying some 70 people en route for Gaza, according to a statement from the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, an advocacy group supporting the effort.

Among those aboard will be former Tunisian president Dr Moncef Marzouki, Spanish MEP Ana Maria Miranda Paza and Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas, organisers said.

Ghattas’s decision to join the flotilla caused outrage in Israel.

On Sunday, deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said the flotilla was “the work of provocateurs whose aim is to blacken Israel’s face,” adding that the ministry had been working “through diplomatic channels night and day” to prevent it from reaching Israeli waters.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ghattas urged that he “command the Israeli security forces to stay away and allow the flotilla to arrive at its destination.”

“Any form of takeover to prevent this will only involve Israel in yet another difficult international crisis or scandal,” he warned.

Ghattas was referring to the killing of 10 Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara after Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to break the Gaza blockade in May 2010.

Since then, several ships manned by pro-Palestinian activists have tried to reach the shores of Gaza, but they have all been repelled by the Israeli navy.

Activists in the Freedom Flotilla III are undeterred.

They say the international pressure Israel faces after the latest conflict Gaza, along with the uproar the 2010 raid caused, make it unlikely it will use violence this time.

The International Criminal Court said last year that war crimes may have been committed in the 2010 raid – though the chief prosecutor decided that potential cases were not of “sufficient gravity” to justify further ICC action.

“One has to be realistic,” Graner said.

“We know that we’re sailing towards a blockade that is upheld essentially by two large military forces,” he said, referring also to Egypt’s navy.

Activists have accused Egypt of helping to enforce the blockade, although Cairo denies involvement.

“We think Israel lost a lot by the violence that they used in 2010. It would be extremely stupid of the Israelis… to use violence against us.”

Israel has in recent weeks been on the defensive over actions during the July-August war, where the majority of the 2 200 Gazans killed were civilians. Seventy-two Israelis were killed, 67 of them soldiers.

In anticipation of Monday’s UN report, Israel cleared itself of wrongdoing in a number of controversial incidents, including the bombing of UN schools being used as shelters for the displaced.

Israel says it was forced to target the schools’ vicinities because of actions by Hamas, which allegedly stored weaponry and fired rockets from UN institutions.

About 100 000 Gazans remain homeless, with the reconstruction of tens of thousands of homes yet to begin. Israel’s ongoing blockade, now in its ninth year, has been blamed as well as a lack of international donor support.

Israel says more than 1.1 million tons of construction material have been allowed in since October 2014, along with food and other supplies.

Critics of the blockade have called for it to be fully lifted to allow reconstruction, warning that without it an ongoing humanitarian crisis could fuel further conflict.

About “1.8 million Palestinians (are) living in disgraceful, prison-like conditions as a result of Israel’s military siege of both sea and land,” Ghattas said in his letter to Netanyahu.

“The third freedom flotilla carries humanitarian aid for the residents of the strip and aims to end the siege.”

 AFP

Send a message and pledge your support for the Freedom Flotilla TODAY! – Pledge here

Flotilla ships sailing to Gaza

23 Jun

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Former Tunisian President Dr Mohamed al-Marzouki (centre) joins other Freedom Flotilla participants in Greece.

Palestinian Information Centre report, Athens, 22 June 2015

The Freedom Flotilla III heading to blockaded Gaza will set sail within the next few hours despite Israeli threats to obstruct the humanitarian mission, head of the Miles of Smiles convoy, Dr. Issam Youssef,  said Monday.

Youssef said the benevolent activists expressed their commitment to head to the Gaza Strip and work on lifting the siege regardless of the threats and circumstances.

Tunisia’s ex-president Dr. Mohamed al-Moncef al-Marzouki, along with a number of Arab and European activists, arrived in Greece to join the convoy.

Youssef spoke out against Israeli intents to attack the campaigners, calling on the international community to take up its ethical responsibility in protecting the multi-national convoy.

Meanwhile, the European campaign to end the siege on Gaza called, in a press conference held in Gaza Monday, for providing protection to the pro-Palestine volunteers who have joined the Freedom Flotilla III.

It also pushed for taking legal action against Israeli assailants and filing suits with international courts.

Head of the Euro-mid Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdo, called for the need to urgently lift the siege on Gaza and open a waterway from Gaza’s seaport so as to assuage to crises rocking the besieged coastal enclave.

He urged the international community to seriously work on providing the delegation with the needed security shields, pushing for stepping up pressure on the Israeli occupation so as to lighten the noose tightened around Gazans’ necks.

 

‘Gaza is on the horizon’

22 Jun

 

The last video message from the first Flotilla ship, the Marianne in Messina, Sicily, before they set sail to join the other Freedom Flotilla III boats heading for Gaza by the end of June. [Video in Swedish and English language sections]

On board are two New Zealand media reps; senior journalist with MaoriTV, Ruwani Perera, and award-winning cameraman, Jake Bryant (both of whom can be briefly spotted in this video clip during the wharf-side briefing). Their mission has been facilitated by Kia Ora Gaza. Watch out for their reports.

The Marianne, which has sailed from Sweden, stopped in at the Messina port to receive the solidarity and support of Italian people. From there, Gaza is on the horizon.

Kia Ora Gaza will post updates & news on the Flotilla on our FaceBook pages and website: kiaoragaza.net

The flotilla organisers will be tweeting about the mission using the following Hashtag:

Freedom Flotilla to challenge the blockade of Gaza

9 Jun

 

The Swedish ship ‘Marianne’ has reached the Mediterranean to join the rest of the international Freedom Flotilla III boats heading for the port of Gaza this month.

Our intrepid Kiwi delegation will be among the contingents from about 20 nations on board, determined to challenge Israel’s illegal & cruel blockade of Gaza. After the historic visit, the flotilla boats will load up with local produce for export.

Messages of support for the Kiwi delegation, and donations towards the cost of this mission are welcome – our appeal target is $20,000. See the sidebar for options.

Ex-president of Tunisia will sail with the Freedom Flotilla

28 May
tunisia-president-moncef-marzoukr_0Former Tunisian president Dr. Moncef Marzouki

When Freedom Flotilla III sets sail for Gaza next month, former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki affirms that he will be on board, along with delegations from up to 20 countires.

Statement from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition:

Representatives of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and partner organizations traveled to Tunis (recently) where they participated in the World Social Forum.  During the WSF they met with several Palestinian and Tunisian civil society organizations.

FFC representatives were also received by Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia and renowned Human Rights defender.  During the meeting Dr. Marzouki gave FFC his full support and confirmed that he will be on board of one of Freedom Flotilla III ships.

The week was concluded with an internal FFC and partners meeting during which the FFC points of unity were reconfirmed. The group agreed that FF3 will sail with at least three ships.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is more critical than ever and is worsening by the day. Media apathy and inaction by most governments puts the burden on civil society organizations, as ourselves, to take the lead in challenging the Israeli blockade. Our flotillas will continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted.  [End of statement. Slightly abridged]

Kia Ora Gaza has been invited to send a Kiwi delegation to join the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza next month. Please donate to our appeal here, and send a message of support. – Kia Ora Gaza

Kiwis to join new Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

20 May

11263943_10152994654268432_1389637303134061456_nThe first of the Freedom Flotilla ships, the Marianne, gets a big farewell from Sweden last week.

Kia Ora Gaza has been invited to send a New Zealand contingent to join the new international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza next month. We hope to be able to name the team soon. We have launched an appeal to cover the costs. Our target is $15,000.

FREEDOM FLOTILLA APPEAL – HOW TO DONATE:

Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so our Board of Trustees can send you an e-receipt.

Or write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

Kia Ora Gaza is a Charitable Trust incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957.

The Flotilla will comprise at least three ships. The first, the Marianne, departed from Sweden last week, and has arrived in Germany on the way to the Mediterranean sea to link up with the other boats.

Organisers said “Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the ‘Freedom Flotilla III’ in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

Marianne’s cargo includes donated medical equipment and solar panels: “The sun cannot be blockaded.”

RT video interview with filmmaker and activist Osama Qashoo who was on the Freedom Flotilla five years ago.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza has launched an international campaign to mobilise support and advocacy politically and diplomatically for the Freedom Flotilla III which included a number of meetings with European parliamentarians and parties’ advisers.

The campaign confirmed during these meetings the need to press Israel to immediately lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki (Dec. 2011 – Dec. 2014) confirmed his participation on one of the FF III vessels. He indicated full support for the mission. Delegations, including law makers, well known artists, activists and media from up to 15 counties will also join the Flotilla

Conditions in Gaza are worse than ever. In March, UNRWA said “the effects of (Israel’s) 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.”

Separately it said “Gaza and its people are becoming more isolated. Families fear and worry that in addition to the devastated economy and stalled political environment, the future of their children is also under siege.”

Israel ruthlessly holds 1.8 million Gazans hostage to its to aim for Middle East dominance.

Regional wars serve Israeli interests. They help its expansionist agenda – at the cost of millions of lost lives and futures.

Israel ‘will not allow’ peace flotilla

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman announced on Monday that ‘Israel will not allow unauthorized boats to enter its territorial waters’ as the converted trawler Marianne left Sweden intending to break the illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

Without referring to the specific Swedish boat, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that “if the so-called helpful Gaza flotillas were really interested in the welfare of the population in Gaza, they would send their aid via Israel. The fact that they insist on a flotilla demonstrates this is an unnecessary provocation.”

The first Freedom Flotilla was led by Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, which set off towards the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2010 before Israeli forces attacked it in international waters killing ten activists and injuring many others.

Gaza remains illegally and tightly blockaded despite Israel’s pledge to ease it. Large parts of the Strip lie in ruins, with thousands of families still without adequate shelter – almost nine months since Israel’s last war of aggression ended, resulting in over 2000 Palestinian deaths and many thousands injured.

Funds pledged for reconstruction have been almost totally blocked as Israel maintains tight control over what’s allowed in or out.

Living conditions are deplorable. Most Gazans have no electricity 18 or more hours daily. Over 90% of the water is undrinkable, and half a million residents have no running water. Other basic services are woefully inadequate.

Almost half the population is unemployed, including nearly 70% of youths. Around 80% rely on desperately needed humanitarian aid.

Israel’s cruel siege is slowly suffocating Gaza’s 1.8 million people. Egypt’s military rulers have closed down the border crossing at Rafah.

Efforts to break Israel’s siege and deliver vital humanitarian aid are blocked – at times violently.

Flotilla III is a humanitarian mission to deliver vital aid and challenge the naval blockade. Israel blocked the Flotilla II vessels from reaching Gaza.

Its mission statement says the flotillas “will continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted.”

“Our objective is humanitarian. Our basis lies in international humanitarian law. Our method is non-violent.”

Israel’s blockade is blatantly illegal. It’s slow-motion genocide. It needs to be unconditionally ended.

World leaders able to help, sit on their hands and do nothing. They issue outrageous statements calling for “quiet diplomacy” – code language for condoning Israel’s worst crimes. The humanitarian flotillas and solidarity convoys are international civil society’s practical actions to break and end the siege. 140515_ASH_00-(4)Palestinians hold flags and banners at the Gaza port during a recent rally to show solidarity for Third Freedom Flotilla. [APAImages.]

 

 

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