A group of international activists involved in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition held a press conference in London on Monday to debrief the media about the terrorist attack against Gaza’s Ark at the end of last month, and to announce a global day of action on 31 May to demand an end to Israel’s draconian siege of the Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s Ark is a project that intends to help Palestinians to break the siege of Gaza by sea. International activists raised the necessary funds to purchase a boat, which is now being refurbished by Palestinian workers in the port of Gaza so that it can export Palestinian-made goods from the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip with the help of the international community, thus challenging the Israeli blockade “from the inside out”.
However, on 29 April a mysterious explosion caused substantial damages to the hull of the boat, which will cost approximately $30,000 to repair. But while this setback will delay the ship’s first voyage, the activists, who included Canadian-Palestinian Ehab Lotayef, Swede Anne Ighe, British-Palestinian Zaher Birawi and American Robert Naiman, vowed that they are determined to carry on with the project, and that the boat will sail in autumn.
They explained that since the investigation into the explosion is still ongoing, it is not yet possible to say with certainty which party carried out the attack; but both Lotayef and Birawi noted that the Israeli occupation is the main beneficiary from this act of sabotage.
The activists also announced that there will be a global day of action for Gaza on 31 May, which corresponds with the fourth anniversary of the Israeli occupation forces’ brutal attack against the Freedom Flotilla in international waters, killing nine Turkish activists.
Subsequent efforts by international activists to break the siege of Gaza by sea have been sabotaged in the ports of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have now suffered for eight years under an Israeli-imposed siege, including severe restrictions on all border crossings, preventing people and the necessary supplies of food, medicine, fuel and building supplies from entering into the Strip. UN officials have likened the conditions in Gaza to an “open-air prison”.