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Organizers of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza say all technical and crewing requirements have been completed in order to set sail on Friday. (Photo: via Freedom Flotilla Coalition TW Page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Approximately 1,000 people including doctors, lawyers and journalists from various countries will participate in the initiative.

Organizers of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza say all technical and crewing requirements have been completed in order to set sail on Friday.

“We are working diligently to move our boats to a port in Istanbul where the paperwork procedures for hundreds of participants can be completed, to allow for boarding beginning on Friday morning,” the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Approximately 1,000 people including doctors, lawyers and journalists from various countries will participate in the endeavor of which two ships are assigned for activists, a third is intended to carry 5,500 tons of humanitarian aid and a fourth is expected to join.

Participants were to undergo the “required nonviolent direct-action training” before the departure, the statement said.

“Governments must refuse to collaborate in maintaining Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza by obstructing the flotilla in any way,” said Huwaida Arraf, US human rights attorney and FFC Steering Committee member.

“We call on the governments of the 40 countries represented on the Freedom Flotilla to uphold their obligations under international law and demand that Israel guarantee the flotilla safe passage to Gaza,” she stressed.

Mandela on Board

Among the prominent participants is Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, the grandson of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, who expressed excitement at the official announcement of the flotilla’s departure date.

“We have finally gotten through to set sail and we are looking forward to breaking the siege and breaking the blockade on Gaza and ensuring that Palestinians and civil society in particular receive this humanitarian aid.”

“We are certain it will be a success,” Mandla, who is also an African National Congress MP, said.

“The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is composed of unarmed civilians that are here on a peaceful mission to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza and to deliver humanitarian assistance as requested by the International Court of Justice,” explained Ann Wright, a retired US Army colonel and former diplomat.

Wright is also a member of the steering committee of the Coalition made up of 12 national groups that she said “are challenging the illegal Israeli navy blockade of Gaza.”

Baby Formula and Food

The former diplomat explained that there are food products on board that “are meant to keep people alive.”

There are also medical supplies that “are not being allowed into Gaza or are not getting in there in any substantial amount to keep people alive.”

Wright said the Israelis are refusing to allow many types of medical equipment in, “endangering the lives of the people that are sick or injured.”

“So we do have medical supplies that are for infants. We’ve got formula, and food supplies for children that are showing the immediate effects of the malnutrition brought on by this starvation genocide that the Israeli government is doing,” she emphasized.

Another participant is 69-year-old Margaret Pancetta, who described herself as “just an ordinary old Glasgow” who has been to occupied Palestine “several times”, the first was 21 years ago as a member of the International Solidary Movement.

“I just truly hope we break the siege. My hopes are that we get this 5,500 tons of aid over to Gaza and let the people of Gaza know they’re loved and supported,” she said in a video shared on FFC’s official Telegram channel.

Media Coverage

Brazilian Felipe Lopez, involved in organizing media coverage of the mission, explained the importance of documenting the journey and experience of the participants.

“When we set sail, I am going to be on board and I’m going to be reporting everything that is happening. So please connect with us, share our content…tag your politicians and join us,” he said.

In 2010, a similar effort with ships carrying more than 600 activists from more than 30 countries, resulted in the deaths of nine people after the Israeli army raided the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship in international waters. A tenth activist later died of his injuries.

Broader Action Needed

Arraf, who was one of the organizers of the 2010 flotilla, said that “because this siege and anything Israel is doing is illegal, any kind of interception of our ships would be illegal. Any kind of violence that Israel would do so would also be illegal.”

“We are a civilian initiative bringing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people,” she emphasized. “We will be going from international waters into Gaza’s territorial waters. We are not entering Israeli waters and the people of Gaza want us there.”

Arraf also hoped “that this kind of action mobilizes broader action, not just making it about aid. Yes, the Palestinian people desperately need aid right now. But we have to address the political realities that leave Palestinians in need of that aid. We have to stop what Israel is doing.”

Over 34,300 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,305 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,293 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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