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.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition delivered a message to UN Representative Alexey Maslov for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling for international protection for the flotilla so that it is not intercepted on its way to Gaza. “We sent a letter to the UN informing them that this is a humanitarian flotilla carrying foreign supporters and activists and that it will sail towards Gaza in the next few hours,” confirmed Al-Batta. “We also said that the UN must carry out its duties towards the flotilla in order to provide it with protection in light of the threats from the Israeli leadership.” The UN representative welcomed the letter and promised to deliver it to Mr Ban.
According to Rami Abdo, an ECESG member, the message included a warning against an Israeli interception of the flotilla, which he stressed would lead to the deterioration of the situation and result in a number of consequences.
Abdo insisted that legal and human rights laws and conventions give the Freedom Flotilla the absolute right to reach Gaza. He called on the United Nations not to remain content with their statements; they should, he said, turn their words into deeds to ensure the safe arrival of the flotilla.
He attributed the delay in setting sail to the bad weather. The ships are all prepared and will wait for good weather in order to ensure the safety of all 80 participants on board.
The Palestinians in Gaza are making preparations to welcome the flotilla. Practice marches by naval personnel have been held and Gaza’s boat-owners are getting ready to go to sea to meet the flotilla and accompany the vessels into port.
Images by MEMO photographer Mohammed Asad.