The 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla named “Just Future for Palestine” sailed in May from several ports in Scandinavia. Two boats – ‘Al Awda’ (The Return) and ‘Freedom’ sailed along the Atlantic coast , while two small sailboats – ‘Mairead’ and ‘Falestine’ travelled via European canals and rivers.
The boats made 30 port stops for educational programs in about conditions in Gaza before meeting again in the Mediterranean Sea for the final leg towards Gaza in late July. We estimate we reached over 100,000 persons in these educational events.
Each leg of the voyage on all four boats had new participants to give more supporters of Palestine an opportunity to participate directly on the 2018 flotilla. Over 100 persons participated on the boats during the 75 day voyage and hundreds more helped as ground and port support in the 28 ports that were visited by at least one of the boats. Artists in many communities were invited to paint on the boats with messages to Palestine.
In late July, the boats met together again-in Palermo, Sicily, Italy for the final leg towards Gaza. Information and photos about events and visitors along the way are recorded throughout our website https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/category/news, as well as on our social media sites, Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately due to a mechanical issue and a crewing issue, the two small yachts (‘Falestine’ and ‘Mairead’) ended their voyage in the Mediterranean and could not directly confront the illegal Israeli blockade. ‘Al Awda’ and ‘Freedom’ left Palermo on 22 July 2018 on their final leg to the port of Gaza, Palestine.
We selected participants from different countries and they included representatives from civil society, including politicians, activists, journalists, trade union leaders, artists, professors, faith leaders and students for different legs of the journey. During the 75 days of the voyage, there were 8 different portions of the trip with different passengers on each part. We had an international ground crew that met the boats at each of the ports to coordinate with local organizers. Many of the biographies of the 22 delegates and crew on Al Awda and 15 delegates and crew on Liberty were on the final leg from Sicily to 40 miles off Gaza are available on our website under ‘Participants’. https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/participants
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is composed of civil society organizations and initiatives from many countries. We have been challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza for many years and are committed to continue the struggle until the blockade is unconditionally lifted and Palestinian people everywhere achieve their full rights, including the right to freedom of movement.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition campaigns participating in the JFP Flotilla include: Ship to Gaza-Norway, Canadian Boat to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla-Italy, Palestine Solidarity Alliance-South Africa, Rumbo a Gaza-Spain, Ship to Gaza Sweden, International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, US Boat to Gaza, Kia Ora Gaza – New Zealand/Aotearoa, MyCARE Malaysia, IHH Turkey, National Collective for Palestine and Platform of NGOs for Palestine in France, and Gaza Freedom Flotilla Australia.
The Israeli Occupation Forces were very brutal toward our Captain, crew and delegates. When the boat was boarded by masked gun-wielding Israeli soldiers, our Captain was beaten and tasered, the delegate from New Zealand received blows with blunt weapons and was tasered multiple times, finally to the head, rendering him semi-conscious on the ship’s deck and the ships doctor suffered broken ribs and another delegate suffered a broken foot.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has sued the Israeli Occupation Forces for the return of the boats and for the delivery to Gaza of 13,000 euros of medical supplies that were on the vessels.