A new Freedom Flotilla has set sail from Europe to break the siege on the Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported today. The Hebrew Maariv newspaper stated that four large ships set sail yesterday evening from the port of Gothenburg in Sweden heading towards the Gaza Strip. The newspaper pointed out that hundreds of European activists were on board the vessels to show solidarity with the residents of the Gaza Strip and call for lifting the siege.
The flotilla was led by a fishing boat named Al-Awda (Arabic for return), which left the Norwegian port of Bergen on 30 April, and also included the Heria (Arabic for freedom) and Maird, named after Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activist Mairead Maguire, who was on board a 2010 flotilla.
In the coming weeks, a fourth ship called Palestine is expected to join the flotilla, which will pass through ports in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
This is the fourth such mission to attempt to break the 11-year-old blockade of Gaza. In 2010 Israel boarded six ships loaded with equipment and aid heading for Gaza in international waters. Israeli forces opened fire at activists on the Turkish Mavi Marmara killing ten activists. This led to a political spat between Turkey and Israel with diplomatic relations between the two being severed.
The Freedom Flotilla 2 was launched in 2011 with a third, the Women’s Boat to Gaza, setting sail in 2016. None were successful in breaking the siege.