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Pro-Palestinian groups plan largest Gaza flotilla ever
By Yaakov Katz
Jerusalem Post, 01/24/2011
Convoy of ships is expected to arrive in Gaza on the anniversary of the Israeli raid on the `Mavi Marmara,` in May. International pro-Palestinian groups are preparing a massive flotilla of ships to the Gaza Strip in the spring to coincide with the first anniversary of the Israeli operation to stop the Mavi Marmara in late May, organizers said on Monday.
The convoy of ships will be named “Freedom Flotilla 2” and is expected to include delegations from close to a dozen different countries as well as ships, for the first time, from the United States and Canada. According to the organizers, the different groups are currently in the process of collecting funds, purchasing vessels and recruiting volunteers.
Ankara: Israel fired on `Mavi Marmara` before boarding
Turkel: Flotilla raid in accordance with int`l law
On Sunday, the Turkel Committee submitted its report to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and cleared the government and the Israel Navy of wrongdoing when using lethal force to stop the Mavi Marmara from breaking the Israel-imposed sea blockade on the Gaza Strip last May.
Dror Feiler, an Israeli-Swedish musician and artist who lives in Stockholm – and one of the organizers behind the flotilla – said that the flotilla would try to reach Gaza on May 31, the same day that the Israel Navy stopped the Turkish flotilla last year.
The coalition behind the new blockade-busting effort includes the Turkish IHH and the Free Gaza Movement, both of which were involved in the May flotilla. It is demanding “an immediate and complete lifting of the closure, including a lifting of the travel ban as well as the ban on exports from Gaza.”
According to Feiler, the new flotilla will include activists from Norway, Spain, the US, Canada, Italy, Holland, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“The sea is not always predictable but our goal is to get there the same day or at least close to the same day as the last flotilla,” he said. “Our objective is to get Israel to lift the sea blockade over Gaza and we will keep on trying until we succeed.”
Huwaida Arraf, one of the heads of the Free Gaza movement which organized the last flotilla with the Turkish IHH organization, said that Freedom Flotilla 2 would be “non-violent” but would make every effort to reach the Gaza Strip.
“We are aware that Israel has attacked us in the previous times without justification. Their blockade is illegal and just because they threaten to use force does not mean that we need to stay silent,” Arraf said. “This is a non-violent action. The people of Gaza have the right for freedom and if Israel wants to use force against us and kill people like they did last time then let that be out there for the whole world to see.”
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