Latest Kiwi crew to join Gaza Freedom Flotilla leaves on Sunday

Rana Hamida on the frontline of a recent Auckland march against genocide
Rana Hamida on the frontline of a recent Auckland march against genocide in Gaza. Image: Kia Ora Gaza

Asia Pacific Report

New Zealand activists Youssef Sammour and Rana Hamida have been selected to join the volunteer crew on the international Freedom Flotilla ship Handala, currently visiting European ports and heading to break Israel’s siege of Gaza.

Youssef Sammour at a recent Auckland rally for Palestine
Youssef Sammour at a recent Auckland rally for Palestine. Image: Kia Ora Gaza

They will be farewelled at 10:30am upstairs at the Auckland International Airport on Sunday, reports Kia Ora Gaza.

Trevor Hogan, a former Irish rugby champion and pro-Palestinian activist who participated in several flotillas that were water cannoned and pirated by the Israeli military in the past, has sent a special message to the volunteers and those supporting the freedom missions in “a time of great, unquantifiable grief”.

“While our Handala has just left the Irish port of Cobh and we continue to work on reflagging the flotilla ships stuck in Istanbul, the decades of solidarity from Ireland remains palpable, unwavering and tremendously significant for Palestinians and the wider diaspora,” said Kia Ora Gaza.

“This is a reminder to everyone watching: on those dark days, take time to regroup, regather, and come back again. Until Palestine is free.”

Trevor Hogan’s message to the world in support of Palestine.  Video: Freedom Flotila Coalition

Concerns raised over US ‘floating pier’
Meanwhile, Ahmed Omar in Monoweiss reports that in March 2024, US President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union address that the US would be building a temporary “floating pier” on the Gaza shoreline to deliver “humanitarian aid” to the starving population in Gaza.

“No US boots will be on the ground,” he promised.

Since then, however, critics have raised concerns that the pier is not only being used for “humanitarian” purposes but is being employed for military activities that aid in the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza.

An intelligence source from within the resistance in Gaza, who spoke to Mondoweiss under conditions of anonymity, said there were mounting signs the US pier could also be used to forcibly displace Palestinians.

This would provide an alternative to the original Israeli plan of forcing Palestinians into the Sinai, which was rejected by Egypt early on in the war.

“The floating pier project is an American solution to the displacement dilemma in Gaza,” the source said.

“It goes beyond both the Israeli solution of displacing Gazans into Sinai . . . and the Egyptian suggestion of displacing [Gazans] into the Naqab [desert].”

Instead, the source said, the US pier would be used to facilitate the displacement of Gazans to Cyprus, and then eventually to Lebanon or Europe.

These concerns have been brought into sharp relief after the Israeli army committed a massacre in Nuseirat refugee camp last weekend, killing at least 274 Palestinians in order to retrieve four Israeli captives.

The US pier was at the centre of coverage of the massacre, as multiple news sources, videos, and eyewitness accounts from Gaza indicated that US forces may have been involved in the operation and that humanitarian trucks entering Nuseirat were hiding the Israeli soldiers that carried out the massacre.

Reported in collaboration with Kia Ora Gaza.

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