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press release

Statement from the FFC re. Freedom Flotilla III

The plan for Freedom Flotilla III was to have three boats challenging the blockade and two accompanying/supporting boats. Of the three, the Marianne was on its way from Sweden since May while the Juliano was being prepared in Corfu and the Agios Nikolaos was being prepared in Athens, to start moving in June. All repairs and inspections were made and the two boats were ready to sail.

As the Juliano started to move from Corfu to meet the Marianne south of Crete, the captain realized that there were vibrations in its propeller shafts and had to return to port, after a situation where the boat almost sunk. Upon inspection abnormal bends were discovered in both propeller shafts, a sign that the boat might have been subjected to sabotage.

The third boat, the Agios Nikolaos, faced technical difficulties while sailing from the mainland to Crete as well. After repair, administrative obstacles combined with extraordinary political situation in Greece during that last period, delayed Agios Nikolaos’ departure, despite the positive intervention by Greece’s Ministry of Marine Central Administration, until it was too late to catch up with the other boats.

Due to these circumstances, in a short time we had a very different number of places for the 68 international delegates from 20 countries who were supposed to be on the flotilla, and we had to move people around but still could only accommodate 47 people from 17 countries on four boats. We did manage to increase the number of accompanying boats from two to three, but still had no places for 21 delegates. The value of the commitment and participation of all delegates, those who sailed on the Marianne, those who sailed on the accompanying boats and those who never managed to sail, remains the same, and everyone’s contribution is what made FF3 a success, no matter what each person ended up doing.

FF3 sailed and achieved its goal: to challenge the siege of Gaza and remind the world of the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade. And no matter what difficulties we will face in the future we will continue challenging it till it is fully lifted.

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press release

Freedom Flotilla Coalition makes a call to restore the international law

Israel has not only taken over the sky, borders and Palestinian territorial waters, but has also extended its blockade in the Mediterranean Sea up to 100 nautical miles, violating international and maritime law.

During the operation of hijacking  “Marianne” Israeli soldiers used violence, threats  and abuse against crew and passengers. The IDF referred to the operation as “uneventful” which can only be understood in the light of the levels of violence used in general in the upholding of the blockade and particularily in the routine hijacking of Palestinian fishing vessels.

As always, the Freedom Flotilla sails to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. This year Freedom Flotilla III applied a slightly different strategy than previous missions. The Flotilla consisted of four ships, one of which would sail towards Gaza and three more to accompany it to a certain safe point and then return back to their ports of origin. Two more ships were being prepared to sail together with the “Marianne” and carry more sailors.  They didn’t make it, however, due to technical issues that are currently being investigated. Their sailors, unfortunately, had to stay on shore, but their message of solidarity travelled with the rest of the Flotilla to the Palestinian people.

The morning of June 29th, at 1:06 am, the Israeli army raided the ‘Marianne’, part of the Freedom Flotilla III consisting of four ships. They did so at  night, following the boat  140 miles from Gaza and attacking at a distance of almost 100 nautical miles from Gaza, in international waters. This constitutes a violation of international maritime law. The other three accompanying ships, for the mission named Juliano II, Rachel and Vittorio, carrying 29 sailors, returned safely as planned to their ports of origin.

The 18  sailors on board the “Marianne” – among whom were the Palestinian Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas, the Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and numerous international journalists – were kidnapped and forcibly taken against their will to the military port of Ashdod, to be later transferred to Givon prison. The passengers of the ‘Marianne’ were deported in small groups between 1st  and 6th July.

We call on governments around the world and to international organizations to restore international legality. Our actions would not be necessary if these institutions acted to ensure the accountability of the Israeli government for war crimes and collective punishment against the population of Gaza. Until they effectively act, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition will continue to  sail to Gaza until Israel complies with the international law and the blockade is lifted.

Freedom Flotilla III legal framework

The legal framework on the principles that drive the civil initiative of the Freedom Flotillas are based on:

1. Resolution 242 of the United Nations General Assembly, in which the Israeli military withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories is requested, to ensure freedom of navigation and a just solution to the refugees issue.

2. Fourth Geneva Convention, especially its Title III referred to military actions in Occupied Territories, in which the banning of collective punishment of civilians under occupation is stated in Article 33 of Section I (violated due to the blockade, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, cutting supplies, maritime traffic blockade and fishing ban in territorial waters, and other illegal activities).

3. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This document would be applicable to defend the right of a civil vessel navigation in international waters and also prohibiting the actions of violent attacks in international waters as carried out by Israeli military forces on the Mavi Marmara, with the result of nine Turkish citizens and one American killed, the ships approaches and kidnappings of a dozen civilian which have been trying to break the blockade for the past four years.

Freedom Flotilla will be back

Freedom Flotilla Coalition will not stop until the blockade has ended. We would like to thank all sailors who managed to embark on the Flotilla and also those who stayed back. Furthermore, we would like to thank all media representatives who followed our mission. Last but not least, we would like to thank all sailors on shore, the hundreds of volunteers who worked on the ships to get them prepared, all people who welcomed the “Marianne” at its ports of call all around Europe and finally all supporters of Freedom Flotilla who raised their voices against violation of international law through social media all around the world. We will not stop our actions until the blockade is lifted and Gaza’s port is free for people and products to travel all around the world. We only give one promise to the violators of international law: We will be back!

Freedom Flotilla Coalition

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press release

The detained Swedes will be deported during Sunday and Monday

At 3PM this afternoon Ship to Gazas lawyer informed that they have reached an agreement regarding the deportation of the remaining Swedish captives from the Israeli hijack of the trawler Marianne av Göteborg. The six pearsons are

  • Able Seaman Charlie Andreasson
  • Mate Gustav Bergström,
  • Journalist and Author Kajsa Ekis Ekman,
  • Composer and Musician Dror Feiler,
  • Chef Jonas Kårlin,
  • Captain Joel Opperdoes,

They will be deported in three rounds of two persons each time during this coming Sunday and Monday. We have, at the moment no clear information on flight times. This will be presented in forthcoming press releases.

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press release

Three released tomorrow (02/07), Kevorkova and all Swedes retained

Ship to Gaza’s Israeli lawyer Gabi Lasky informed about 4PM today (01/07) that additionally three of those detained when the fishing trawler Marianne of Gothenburg was hijacked on international waters, will be deported early tomorrow morning.

This concerns Norwegian mate Herman Recksten and the two Canadian citizens, activist Bob Lovelace and machinist Kevin Niesh. They have already been transferred from the Givon-prison to custody at Ben Gurion airport.

Remaining in prison are currently the Russian journalist Nadya Kevorkova (RT-television) and the six Swedes: able-seaman Charlie Andreason, mate Gustav Bergström, journalist and writer Kajsa Ekis Ekman, activist and musician Dror Feiler, ship’s cook Jonas Kårlin and captain Joel Opperdoes.

The detained are divided into two sections where Ekman and Kevorkova are separated from the rest.

Israeli authority has previously pronounced that these people would be deported in turns during Thursday and Friday.

According to Lasky the activists will oppose the deportation until they will be deported as a group.

At previous actions the activists made similar standpoints as they didn’t want to leave anyone behind or in smaller groups, in care of these activists security and wellbeing.

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press release

Press Release: “Marianne” sailors still imprisoned in Israel

It has been more than 50 hours since Israeli navy attacked the “Marianne” in international waters, 100nm from Gaza, during one of its usual acts of State piracy, always behaving as the bullying state of eastern Mediterranean. 18 participants on board were kidnapped and brought by force and against their will to the military Ashdod port. During the operation of seizure of the “Marianne”, which IDF called “uneventful”, Israeli soldiers used violence against participants on board.

Dr. Bassel Ghattas (Member of Knesset), Dr. Moncef Marzouki (ex-President of Tunisia), Ana Miranda (Member of European Parliament) and Ohad Hemo (Channel 2 journalist), were released and the rest were moved to Givon prison at Ramla area, where they remain hostages until this moment.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition stands with all sailors of the “Marianne” who are illegaly kept in the Israeli prison. We demand that the State of Israel immediately releases them and also returns the “Marianne of Gothenberg”. We demand that our governments condemn violence of the State of Israel against peaceful citizens and stand by the rights of the Palestinian people.

The remaining “Marianne” passengers still in Israeli prison are:

 

Nadya Kevorkova Russia
Kajsa Ekis Ekman Sweden
Robert Lovelace Canada
Joel Opperdoes Sweden
Gustave Bergstrom Sweden
Herman Reksten Norway
Kevin Neish Canada
Jonas Karlin Sweden
CharlieAndreasson Sweden
Ammar Al-Hamdan Norway
Mohammed El Bakkali Morocco
Dror Feiler Sweden
Ruwani Perera New Zealand
Jacob Bryant New Zealand

 

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press release

Israel once again commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean

At 02:06AM today (Gaza time) the “Marianne” contacted Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast. After that we lost contact with the “Marianne” and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had “visited and searched” Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board “in international waters” as they admitted themselves. The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists.

We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was “uneventful”, because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the “Estelle” were badly tasered and beaten with clubs. Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.

It is disappointing that the Israeli government chose to continue the absolutely fruitless policy of “no tolerance”, meaning it will continue to enforce an inhumane and illegal collective punishment against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel’s repeated acts of state piracy in international waters are worrying signs that the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean. We demand that the Israeli government cease and desist the illegal detainment of peaceful civilians travelling in international waters in support of humanitarian aid.
We call on our governments to ensure that all passengers and crew from the “Marianne” are safe, and to strongly protest against the violation of international maritime law by the Israeli state. We call on all civil society organizations to condemn the actions of Israel. People all over the world will continue to respond and react to this injustice, as will we, until the port of Gaza is open and the siege and occupation is ended.

For more updates visit: ff3.freedomflotilla.org

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press release

Freedom Flotilla III: Marianne approaches Gaza, sailing boats return back

According to Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s latest contact with the “Marianne” at 2AM (Gaza time), the boat is aproximately 105 nautical miles and continues on its course towards the Palestinian territorial waters and the port of Gaza. It is expected to reach its destination during the next 24 hours.

 

As the “Marianne” enters the final segment of its trip, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has decided to reveal its strategy. At this moment the three sailing boats accompanying and supporting the “Marianne” (“Rachel”, “Vittorio” and “Juliano II”) are changing their course and will be heading back to their ports of origin.  Political representatives, journallists, peace activists on board, a total number of 29 sailors, have assisted the Marianne and its people towards their long and difficult journey, which has always remained to end the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza.

 

We demand that our respective governments act with humanity and to ensure the safety of all of the delegates on board the “Marianne”. We call once again on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade on Gaza and let the peaceful ship, the “Marianne”, reach its destination in order to deliver its cargo of dignity and hope. We urge all international organizations to work towards opening the port of Gaza to let people and products travel freely to the world. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.

For further updates please visit ff3.freedomflotilla.org, as also official FFC social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter)

Categories
press release

Freedom Flotilla III : 47 Participants on Four Boats Sailing Now

Freedom Flotilla III, consisting of four boats, the converted fishing trawler “Marianne of Gothenburg” and the supporting sailing vessels “Rachel”, “Vittorio” and “Juliano II”, carrying 47 people from 17 countries, has been sailing since Saturday morning (Gaza time) to challenge the blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Our primary goal is to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza and to call on opening the port of Gaza, the port of Palestine to the world.

 

Three sailing vessels are accompanying the Marianne, her freedom sailors and cargo on her way to Gaza. Their names (Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II) were given in memory of peace activists Rachel Corrie, Vittorio Arrigoni and Juliano Mer-Khamis, while Juliano II also recalls the Juliano, another boat that was about to leave port but had to stay, due to technical reasons. It is not yet clear whether this boat has been sabotaged, as happened in 2011, and this suspicious case is still under investigation.

 

While the Flotilla bears much-needed aid, our main cargo is, as always, human solidarity and non-violent direct action for the respect of human rights.

 

Since Saturday, the Marianne has been under surveillance by what crew described as military vessels and reconnaissance airplanes, without changing direction or plans. Currently the Marianne is approximately 170 nautical miles from the port of Gaza and could reach its destination within one to two days.

 

From the beginning of this campaign, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been constantly evaluating the prospects for small sailing vessels like Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II to reach their destination or to return to their ports of origin. In order to increase the international presence in this Flotilla we decided to also have boats that would have a different strategy and final destination. The participants on these sailing boats bear witness to the Flotilla and help focus the world’s attention not only on Israeli state piracy against civil society activism, but also to the more than eight years of suffering and arrested development in blockaded Gaza. See ff3.freedomflotilla.org  for updates on boats’ positions and itineraries.

 

During recent days, political support for our challenge to the blockade has been building in Israel and throughout the world. The Flotilla has for years continuously put pressure on this illegal  and inhuman blockade. We are renewing our strategies while staying true to our history of sailing to restore international law in the eastern Mediterranean. More international figures are standing by, prepared to participate in Freedom Flotilla III. By land and by sea, and with one common goal, we will continue until Israel’s illegal blockade is lifted, Egypt stops the arbitrary closures of the Rafah crossing, and Gaza’s port is fully open for both people and products.

 

The 47 participants on board at this time include:

 

MARIANNE AV GÖTEBORG (Swedish flag, 18 people)

 

Dror Feiler Sweden Musician & Composer
 Bassel Ghattas  Israel  Member of Israeli Knesset, Palestinian politician
 Dr. Moncef Marzuki  Tunisia  Human Rights activist, Ex-President of Tunisia
 Ana Miranda  Spain  Member of the European Parliament (BNG)
 Nadya Kevorkova  Russia  Journalist
 Kajsa Ekis Ekman  Sweden  Journalist, Author
 Robert Lovelace  Canada  University Professor & retired Algonquin Chief
 Joel Opperdoes  Sweden  Crew
 Gustave Bergstrom  Sweden
 Herman Reksten  Norway
 Kevin Neish Canada
 Jonas Karlin  Sweden
 CharlieAndreasson  Sweden
 Ammar Al-Hamdan  Norway  Aljazeera  Arabic
 Mohammed El Bakkali  Morocco  Aljazeera Arabic
 Ohad Hemo  Israel  Channel 2  Israeli TV
 Ruwani Perera  New Zealand  MaoriTV
 Jacob Bryant  New Zealand  MaoriTV

 

RACHEL (Greek flag, 8 people)

 

Ehab Lotayef Canada
 Christian Martel  Canada  Retired Québec trade-unionist
 Anouar Gharbi  Tunisia     Founding member of the ECESG
 Yannis Vaitsis  Grece  Doctor
 K  Greece  Crew
 X  Greece  Crew
 Marietta Simegiakou  Greece
Aissa Boukanoun  France  Euronews Arabic

 

VITTORIO (Greek flag, 9 people)

Ann Wright USA ret. U.S. Army coronel & fmr. State DEpt. Official
Nasser Hamdaduche  Algeria  Member of Parliament
D  Greece  Crew
L  Greece  Doctor
 Gerd von der Lippe  Norway  Professor in Sports, Sociology and Author
 N  Greece  Crew
 Wellu Koivisto  Finland
 Achilleas Karaklis  Greece
 Abdel Lateef Belkaim  Algeria  Shourouk TV

 

JULIANO II (Greek flag) 12 people

Martin Lejeune Germany Freelance Journalist
 Zohar Chamberlain  Israel  Rumbo a GAza
 M  Greece  Crew
 Claudio Tamaglini  Italy  International Solidarity Movement
 Anas Nairoukh  Jordan
 Lennart Berggren  Sweden  Sweden Freelance journalist
 Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi  Morocco   Member of Parliament
 Odysseas Voudouris  Greece  Surgeon, ex president of MSF-Greece, ex MP
 Iasonas Voudouris  Greece
 N  Greece  Crew
 M  Greece  Crew
Tayfun Jalci Turkey Anadolu news agency

[button size=’big_large’ text=’SAILORS TO GAZA’ icon=” icon_size=” icon_color=” link=’https://ff3.freedomflotilla.org/sailors-to-gaza/’ target=’_self’ color=” background_color=” border_color=” font_style=” font_weight=” text_align=’center’]

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news

Why I Am On Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 | By Ann Wright

I served 29 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a Colonel. I was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.

 

In my 2003 letter of resignation from the U.S. government in opposition to U.S. President Bush’s war on Iraq, I cited the “continuing unbalanced policies of the United States in Israeli-Palestinian issues” as one of my major concerns on U.S. foreign policy.

I had had an assignment in the Middle East. My first experience in Palestine was in January 2009 when I travelled to Gaza and saw the brutal destruction of much of Gaza by the Israeli attack and the deaths of over 1400 persons. Afterwards, I helped organize 5 delegations to Gaza in 2009, including the Gaza Freedom March with 1300 participants from 30 countries. I returned to Gaza in 2011 as a part of an international parliamentary delegation and again in 2012 after the Israeli attack on Gaza. I was a passenger on the Challenger 1 boat in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which the Israeli commandos executed 9 persons on the Mavi Marmara (a 10th person has now died from his injuries) and wounded over 50 and beat up passengers on each of the six boats in the flotilla. I was an organizer for the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and an initial organizer for Gaza’s Ark.

I am horrified by the brutal 55 day Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014 that left over 2,200 dead and 10,000 wounded and much of the country in ruins. I am equally horrified by the lack of international assistance for the people of Gaza during this past year and by the impunity that Israel has in the international community for the criminal acts it has committed on the people of Gaza and the West Ban.

I am participating again in another Gaza Freedom Flotilla because I am totally and completely opposed to the continuous Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and the U.S. complicity in the frequent massive Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza. Without the approval of the United States and the military weaponry from the United States, Israel would be unable to continue its military destruction of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank. As a concerned citizen of this planet, the least I can do is challenge Israel and my country, the United States, by this flotilla.

 

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news

Palestinian and Jewish Organizations and activists in Israel welcome the Freedom Flotilla and call to end the siege on Gaza

We, Palestinian and Jewish organizations and activists in Israel, oppose the Israeli policy of ongoing human rights violations, a policy that seeks to maintain its control through the siege that is strangulating the Palestinian people. The siege undermines the development of an independent economy and keeps Gazans under occupation, dependent on Israel for their most basic humanitarian needs. We support the struggle to end the occupation in the Palestinian territories, as well as the besieged Gaza strip. We support international solidarity, including the Gaza flotilla.

We are concerned with the humanitarian condition in the Gaza strip, which is under a harsh siege since 2007. In Gaza, more than 70% of the population relies on humanitarian aid; On the eve of “Protective Edge” military attack on Gaza, 57% of the population suffered from food insecurity; The unemployment rate was 42.8% in the 4th quarter of 2014 (compared to 18.7% in 2000); 27 government schools in Gaza were heavily damaged or destroyed during the bombing this summer ; Even before the military operation, the Strip was short over 200 schools, including 150 government schools; Classes are usually taught in two shifts; Israel doesn’t allow the building of a port in Gaza and places severe restrictions on Palestinian fishing boats.

More than 100,000 housing units were damaged during the recent hostilities, including 17,000 housing units which were severely damaged or destroyed; Some 562 factories and workshops were damaged or destroyed during the hostilities.

More than 2000 people lost their lives during the last military attack on Gaza in summer of 2014

We call upon the Israeli government not to prevent the ships from reaching the shore and demand that you refrain from any assault on the ships. We have witnessed an increasingly belligerent tone among Israeli officials, against the flotilla mission and the people on board, amongst them Europeans parliament members as well as the Israeli MK Bassel Ghattas.

We call upon the Israeli media to stop serving as a mouthpiece for the government and Israeli army and start revealing the reality of the flotilla to the public.

The activists on board have declared that they are coming to the region on a peaceful mission to uphold the human rights of the people in Gaza. The organizers of the freedom flotilla have already declared they are conducting trainings for Non-violent actions in case of violent attack on the ship. Nonetheless, Israel brags of its preparations to take over the ship.

It’s time that the international community will demand an end to the siege
The freedom flotillas to Gaza, as well as other solidarity actions, will continue as long as the siege is in place and Palestinian rights to liberty and life in dignity are denied!

The letter is signed by 75 people and seven organizations:
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Coalition of Women for Peace
Women Against Violence
Gush Shalom
Alternative Information Center
Taayush
Tarabut-hithabrut