‘Stop detracting from Israel’s barbaric crimes’ in Gaza plea from Freedom Flotilla

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International participants arrive to sail with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
International participants arrive to sail with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in another attempt to break the illegal Israeli siege on the coastal enclave. Image: Kia Ora Gaza

Asia Pacific Report

Hours ago, the news media reported that Israel has attacked Iran. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition publicly declared that it is reminding the world that with all the escalation between Israel and Iran, the killing is still going on in Gaza.

“While those two countries go back and forth, we cannot let Israel distract the world from what is causing far more death, disease, and destruction — Israel’s policies of starving and continued bombardment of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children,” said the Freedom Flotilla.

Hundreds of civilians from dozens of countries — including Aotearoa/New Zealand — have been meeting in Istanbul, Turkiye, to prepare to sail soon for Gaza, carrying thousands of tonnes of life-saving food and medicine, said Kia Ora Gaza, one of the flotilla coalition members, in a statement.

Three New Zealand doctors are among the international participants.

The flotilla aims to break Israel’s unlawful siege of Gaza and demand an immediate ceasefire to save the lives of thousands of Palestinians.

Participants from 30 countries will be on board, including 40 Americans.

Elliot Adams, former president of Veterans for Peace and a former US paratrooper, called out the complicity of his own government in supporting Israel’s genocidal aggression:

“Israel is trying to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Gaza, with US support, through starvation as well as direct violence.

“This is a humanitarian crisis and we have got to try to stop it by breaking the siege.”

Israeli ‘bombs, bullets killing’
Former Barcelona mayor Ada Colau said: “Israeli bombs and bullets are killing Palestinians in Gaza every day and their illegal siege is deliberately starving everybody else.”

She said she was joining the nonviolent flotilla “because our governments are not listening to the people’s demand to stop Israel’s barbaric crimes against humanity.”

Argentinian surgeon Carlos Trotta, who has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) across the world, including in Gaza, said that the health situation for Palestinians in the besieged Strip was at a crisis point:

“It’s an emergency. Children are dying of malnutrition, patients have their limbs amputated without anesthesia, and thousands are at risk of dying from the spread of infectious disease, all because of Israel’s arbitrary restrictions on aid arriving in Gaza.

“It is critically important for this flotilla to act right now to help prevent even more loss of life.”

Participants will undergo non-violence training for the next three days.

During that time they will review potential scenarios and learn various strategies and tactics to protect themselves and each other in the event of any attacks.

Departing next week
The flotilla will depart next week carrying more than 5000 tonnes of humanitarian aid on a cargo ship, accompanied by two passenger ships.

Huwaida Arraf, a human rights lawyer and Freedom Flotilla organiser, said: “Israel’s current siege on Gaza, as well as its 17-year-long blockade are forms of collective punishment, which is a war crime.

“As the siege and blockade are illegal, Israel has no right to attack or stop our ships.

“We call on our governments, which have thus far done nothing to protect the Palestinian people or compel Israel to abide by international law, to start living up to their obligations and demand our flotilla have safe passage to Gaza.

“We ask people around the world to join us in this call.”

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