Monday, May 18, 2015

Freedom Flotilla III Heads for Gaza

Freedom Flotilla III Headed for Gaza

by Stephen Lendman

Gaza remains illegally blockaded despite Israel's pledge to ease it. Large parts of the Strip lie in ruins - almost nine months since last summer's war of aggression ended. 

Funds pledged for reconstruction weren't forthcoming. Israel maintains total control over what's allowed in or out.

Humanitarian crisis conditions are longstanding - greatly exacerbated by wars at Israel's discretion.

Living conditions are deplorable. Most Gazans have no electricity 18 or more hours daily. 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 continues blocking enough of what Gazans need to survive and live normally - 1.8 people are slowly being willfully suffocated.

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

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos lawlessly interdicted Freedom Flotilla vessels in international waters - headed for Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.

The mother ship Mavi Marmara was attacked. Nine Turkish nationals aboard were murdered in cold blood. Dozens more were wounded. Everyone was brutally treated and arrested.

Accountability remains denied. Murderers remain free to kill again - including commanders and high government officials.

Flotilla III is a humanitarian mission to deliver vital aid to people in need. Israel blocked its Flotilla II vessels from reaching Gaza.

Its mission statement says "(o)ur flotillas will continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted." 

"Our voyage is a natural, brotherly action. Our objective is humanitarian. Our basis lies in international humanitarian law. (O)ur method is non-violen(t)."

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 supporting Israel's worst crimes.

Ship to Gaza Sweden is one of a number of Freedom Flotilla III vessels involved. Its participants say "(a)s human beings, we cannot stand by silently while witnessing what the blockade is doing to the people of Gaza."

"(T)herefore we will act. (We'll) load our ships" with urgently needed aid. We'll send "more ships with many more people."

We'll "show our solidarity with the people of Gaza. We need your help to break the blockade once and for all, and to ensure that the human rights and dignity of the people of Gaza are respected."

A Ship to Gaza Sweden press release said "Marianne of Gothenburg will leave her home port at 7 pm on the 10 of May." 

"The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip."

"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."

European ports will be visited en route - "for manifestations against the blockade. The First three ports will be Helsingborg, Malmo and Copenhagen." Others will follow.

Marianne's cargo includes donated solar panels and medical equipment. "The sun cannot be blockaded."

Passengers aboard include five crew members and up to eight delegates in each segment of the voyage. Names will be announced along the way.

Ones so far known include:

Maria Svensson: Feministiskt Initiative spokesperson

Mikael Karlsson:  Ship to Gaza Sweden chairperson

Henry Ascheer: Pediatrician/professor of public health

Lennart Berggren: Filmmaker

Dror Feiler: Musician/mission spokesperson

Freedom Flotilla III will travel 5,000 nautical miles with vital aid Israel intends blocking - maybe violently based on its sordid history.

Other vessels involved include: 

  • Canadian Boat to Gaza;

  • Greece Ship to Gaza;

  • Freedom Flotilla Italia;

  • Norway Ship to Gaza;

  • South Africa Palestine Solidarity Alliance;

  • Spain Rumbo a Gaza; and

  • Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

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.

Conditions in Gaza are worse than ever. In March, UNRWA said "the effects of (Gaza'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 the stall political environment, the future of their children is also under siege."

Israel ruthlessly holds 1.8 million Gazans hostage to its to aim for a greater Israel it envisions extending from the Nile Valley to the Euphrates - including Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and parts of neighboring states to assure unchallenged Middle East dominance.

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

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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