Pro-Palestinian Activists, Including Arab MK, Set Sail to Break Gaza Blockade
JNS.org – A ship of pro-Palestinian activists, including an Israeli-Arab member of the Knesset, set sail for the Gaza Strip on Friday in an attempt to breach the naval blockade of the coastal territory.
“Finally, we are aboard the Swedish freedom boat the Marianne, and we are on our way to Gaza,” MK Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List) said on his Facebook page.
The Marianne of Gothenburg, also dubbed “Freedom Flotilla III” in reference to previous flotillas to break the Gaza blockade, originated in Sweden and set sail from Crete, Greece on Friday. It is scheduled to arrive off the coast of Gaza on Sunday. The ship is carrying solar panels and medical supplies, organizers say.
The Marianne is set to be joined by four other vessels that will total 70 passengers, according to Israeli-born left-wing activist Dror Feiler, who is aboard the vessel. A statement by the flotilla on Friday said the effort is attempting “to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison.”
Israel and Egypt maintain a naval blockade of Gaza in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other materials that can ultimately be used for terrorism against their countries.
In 2010, the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship carrying Palestinian activists, was intercepted by the Israel Defense Forces as it attempted to break the Gaza blockade. The confrontation turned violent after militants began attacking Israeli naval commandos, leading to the deaths of nine Turks and the deterioration of Israeli diplomatic relations with Turkey.