About 200 Palestinian and foreign activists launched a protest flotilla in the Gaza Sea on Monday, sending a message to the world about the continuing Israeli siege of Gaza.
The Intifada Youth Coalition along with international activists, dozens of them from Europe, organised the action in solidarity with the fishermen in Gaza.
They boarded about 20 fishing boats and sailed beyond six nautical miles, the boundary that the Israeli occupation enforces on the fishermen of Gaza.During their protest, they raised Palestinian flags and a number of different posters with anti-Israeli blockade slogans written on them. Some of the slogans called for the international community to do more to help the Palestinians in Gaza.
Italian activist Paolo Janino said: “Throughout our participation in this flotilla, we are carrying a message of solidarity from Italians to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”
Before they returned back to the shores, the activists threw bottles containing messages into the sea. The messages included calls for the international community to put more pressure on Israel to lift the strict siege imposed on Gaza since 2006. The messages also included calls for the Israeli naval forces to stop their daily violations against the fishermen in Gaza.
Palestinian fishermen complain that they cannot meet the demand for fish in Gaza due to the Israeli measures that limit the area where they can fish to only six nautical miles.
In a press conference before the flotilla set off, the Intifada Youth Coalition affirmed that the main aim of the protest was to break that six mile limit. “The siege imposed on fishermen has to be lifted,” a spokesperson noted. “This is a humanitarian necessity.”
More than 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza have been living under a strict Israeli siege imposed on them since mid-2006. They have also been exposed to two massive Israeli offensives during this time. Around 2,000 people were killed and more than 5,000 wounded.
Palestinians in Gaza suffer severe shortages in all aspects of their lives, including a lack of clean drinking water, medicines, fuel and electricity. Since the beginning of November, they have endured extreme power shortages. Each family has only between four to six hours of electricity each day.
Israel has also banned all construction materials from entering the Strip. Under the leadership of elected President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt contributed to easing the siege by allowing Palestinians to smuggle food, fuel and other materials through tunnels.
However, in the wake of the military coup against Morsi last July, life has become even more complicated for Palestinians living in the small coastal enclave.