Israeli Court Orders Release of the “Estelle” That Attempted to Break Gaza Blockade in 2012

Estelle ship to Gaza

A Swedish human rights group intend to demand damages for a ship impounded by Israel after the Supreme Court ordered its release on Sunday, the French news agency AFP reported.
The ship was impounded in 2012 as it neared the coast of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.
Israel-born activist Dror Feiler was one of 11 Swedish nationals belonging to the group “Ship to Gaza” who were on the vessel when it was commandeered by the Israeli Navy.
The Swedes, along with activists from Norway, Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece and Finland, were arrested and subsequently deported.
Feiler said that the Finnish-flagged Estelle was in Israel’s northern port of Haifa, still afloat but unfit to put to sea.
“Last time we had a person who checked the boat, it was maybe one year or nine months ago, the condition of the boat was not good, to put it mildly,” he said.
“It’s in salt water and we don’t know the condition of the engine, we don’t know the condition of the sails,” he said. “We will demand that the boat be put into seaworthy condition so we can sail it out.”
The Supreme Court awarded the ship’s owners legal costs of 40,000 shekels ($10,500) after ruling that it had been impounded illegally.
Feiler said Ship to Gaza would now file a claim for damages.
“They kept the boat for four years and now the court is stipulating that it was illegal so we shall try to get economic compensation,” he said. “It’s much larger (than the court expenses).”
read more:

Israel: Supreme Court Orders Release of Ship Captured Attempting to Break Gaza Blockade

(Aug. 10, 2016) On August 8, 2016, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected an appeal by the state against the Haifa District Court’s decision not to allow confiscation of the ship Estelle. Instead, the Court ordered the release of the ship to its owners.  (CA7307/14 State of Israel v. the Ship Estelle (Aug. 8, 2016), STATE OF ISRAEL: THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY (in Hebrew).)

Facts of the Case

According to the Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, “[s]ince Israel’s disengagement – following which Israel’s effective control over the Gaza Strip ceased … there were several attempts by foreign ships to reach the strip … .” (Id. ¶ 1.)  These attempts continued despite the issuance of an advisory notice on August 11, 2008, informing crew members that Israel’s navy was operating along the Gaza Strip shore and requesting foreign ships not to enter the area.  As attempts by foreign ships to reach the Gaza Strip continued, a maritime blockade was imposed during the “Cast Lead” military operation.  On January 3, 2009, Israel declared a maritime blockade and prohibited the entry of ships into an area extending 20 nautical miles from the shore.  (Id.)

The Estelle left Finland on May 28, 2012, heading to the Gaza Strip. Despite repeated warnings, it was continuing to approach the blockade area when it was stopped by the Israeli Navy.  The ship was brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod; its crew and passengers were removed, interrogated, and then deported.  After being checked, the ship’s cargo, designated under the cargo manifest as humanitarian aid, was transferred to the Gaza Strip through a land crossing.  The ship was then transferred to the Israeli port of Haifa.  (Id. ¶ 2.)  On August 15, 2013, about ten months after the ship had been impounded, the state filed a request to order the ship’s confiscation in accordance with the Naval Prize Act 1864. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Summary of the District Court’s Decision

The district court rejected the claim by the shipowners that the court lacked authority to adjudicate naval prize matters. Such authority, the court recognized, was based on the British Naval Prize Act 1864, as amended in 1939 to apply also to territories under the British mandate. A special provision authorized the then Palestine Supreme Court to adjudicate naval prize suits, following a declaration of war that was then published in the Palestine Official Gazette of 1939.  The court held that the eruption of war between Britain and Germany and its allies in 1939 was in itself sufficient evidence that there was a state of war, giving the Palestine Supreme Court the authorization to adjudicate matters of naval prizes.  (Id. ¶ 6.)

All the powers granted to the British Crown, including that of declaring war, the district court further determined, were transferred to the State of Israel upon its establishment. The existence of a state of war, or at least an armed confrontation, between Israel and the residents of the Gaza Strip, is not under dispute. Following the enactment of the Maritime Court Law, 5712-1952, the Supreme Court’s adjudicative powers in maritime affairs were transferred to the Haifa District Court when it sits as a maritime court. These include adjudicating naval prize matters. (Id.; Maritime Court Law, 5712-1952, SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, the official gazette] 5712 No. 97 p. 232 (in Hebrew).)

While rejecting the shipowners’ arguments against the district court’s jurisdiction, the court accepted their claim that the state had not complied with the procedural requirements under the Naval Prize Act. Accordingly “the ship and its documents should have been brought to the naval prize court ‘forthwith’ and ‘with all practicable speed’ for adjudication.  (CA7307/14 State of Israel v. the Ship Estelle, ¶ 8.)  The district court emphasized that

[t]he need for a judicial determination does not depend on the will of the impounding state or on a request by the ship owner; the legitimacy of the impounding depends on a judicial confirmation. The impounding state must, soon after impounding the ship and transferring it to a port under the state’s control, request and receive authorization for the impounding from the court of naval prizes. (Id.)

Under the circumstances of the case, the district court held, the long delay in filing with the court in itself justified the release of the ship, even in the absence of an express provision to this effect. (Id. ¶ 9.)

The Supreme Court Decision  

  1. General Rules on Adjudication of Naval Prize

Having reviewed extensive case law and literature on international maritime law, Court President Naor, who wrote the main decision, concluded that there was a consensus that ownership of a ship can only be transferred to the capturing state upon judicial authorization. (Id. ¶ 20). Furthermore, the time in which the state must request adjudication must be reasonable to allow it to collect evidence and hear the shipowners’ arguments before determining whether to start prize procedures. A review of multiple foreign court decisions indicates that ships impounded under their specific  circumstances were usually released within a few weeks. (Id. ¶ 36.)

Unusual circumstances, Naor opined, might justify a more significant delay in release of ships when it has been decided that prize procedures will not be pursued. Examples of such circumstances include an unusual security situation that does not allow for the release of ships or a need to rescue ships at the bottom of the sea.  (Id. ¶ 37.)

Naor concluded that a state that impounds a ship must begin prize procedures within a reasonable time, which in most cases may extend from several days to several weeks following capture. An unreasonable delay in engaging in legal proceedings, she stated, might entitle the shipowners to compensation.  (Id. ¶ 42.) Release of a ship based on a delay, she added, could not be reversed even if there were a justifiable cause for the ship’s capture. This is because the question of whether there is a cause for confiscation is irrelevant to the initial duty of the state to bring the ship before the designated prize court.  (Id. ¶ 44.)

  1. Application to the Current Case

According to Naor, the initiation of naval prize procedures by the state ten months following the capture of the Estelle was a sizable delay that significantly exceeds the accepted norms. (Id. ¶ 46.)  Additionally, the state had not presented any considerations specifically related to the Estelle that would justify such a delay. Those considerations could be, for example, efforts to reach an alternative remedy, the handling of cargo, or the conduct of negotiations with the ship’s owners. (Id.)

The circumstances of the case indicate that the state has not had any contact with the Estelle’s owners, nor did it conduct any investigation regarding the ship. In fact, Naor found, the State has not responded to the owners’ inquiries, nor did it update them regarding the ship’s condition. In this situation, she held, not only was the delay in starting the naval prize proceedings unreasonable but, in fact, the state’s mishandling of the owners resulted in depriving them of their right to submit their claims; had they been allowed to do so, it might have prevented the need to engage in the naval prize proceedings in the first place. (Id. ¶ 47.)

In an effort to justify the ten-month delay, the state argued that in evaluating how the Estelle was handled, it had to consider a wide variety of factors, including security aspects, foreign affairs interests, and other policy concerns. Naor rejected this argument and held that such considerations can be made by the state for the purpose of adoption of a general policy towards prize proceedings, but that process must be differentiated from the one needed for a determination of whether to resort to a prize proceeding against a specific ship.  (Id. ¶ 48.)

  1. Verdict

The Court ordered the immediate release of the Estelle and required the state to cover the ship’s costs in the amount of 40,000 New Israel Shekels (about US$10,500). (Id. ¶ 50.)

According to media reports, the Estelle’s owners intend to demand compensation for the damage caused to the ship during its impoundment, including the costs to return it to seaworthy condition. (Israeli Court Orders Release of Ship that Attempted to Break Gaza Blockade, HAARETZ (Aug. 9, 2016).)


Link to the 33 page opinion


And an article about the verdict




In 2013, Spanish prosecutor requests ICC referral of case against Israel’s Netanyahu for 2010 flotilla attack-but case dropped

In 2013, the prosecutor of Spain’s national court  formally requested a judge to begin steps to refer a case against Israeli leaders for the attack on the Gaza flotilla in 2010 to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Spanish campaign Rumbo A Gaza has a lengthy website in Spanish with many documents on this case.

Three Spanish citizens, Manuel Tapial, Laura Arau and David Segarra, were aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israeli forces attacked and commandeered the ship in international waters on 31 May 2010, killing nine people, wounding dozens of others, and kidnapping all the crew and hundreds of passengers.

Tapial, Arau and Segarra filed the case against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, six ministers and a vice admiral of the Israeli navy who led the attack. Arau, a filmmaker, described the attack in an interview last August, and said the Israelis confiscated everything she recorded.

The Mavi Marmara was the largest of several vessels that formed the flotilla that attempted to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Prosecutor finds strong evidence of crimes against humanity

Spain’s reported that the prosecutor in the case, Pedro Martínez Torrijos, found that there was “strong evidence” of “crimes against humanity, illegal detention, deportation and torture” that merited investigation by the ICC.

Torrijos ruled that both Spain’s national courts and the ICC were competent to investigate the case, but that the ICC was preferable. If the ICC refused to investigate, or ruled the case inadmissible, according to Torrijos, then it could return to Spanish courts under universal jurisdiction.

The prosecutor said the ICC had jurisdiction because the vessels that were the victims of the attack were flagged in states that are members of the international court, and Spain was involved as its citizens were aboard the ships.

Government will decide

Under Spanish procedure, the prosecutor sent an official brief (PDF) containing his findings to a magistrate asking that the judge request the Ministry of Justice to refer the case to the ICC. In other words, reported, “the government will decide whether to refer the case to the ICC prosecutor.”

That could be a sticking point as several Western governments, including the UK and Belgium, have previously been complicit in frustrating efforts to bring Israeli war criminals to justice.

In June 2015, a Madrid court dropped its investigation into possible Israeli war crimes over the 2010 Gaza Flotilla raid. The case could be reopened, however, should Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or any others named within, visit Spain.

Spain’s case is based upon the concept of universal jurisdiction, which maintains that crimes against humanity can be tried across borders. Spanish law has changed recently, however, to require a Spanish connection in the case for it to be tried. There were Spanish activists involved in the flotilla.

In a written ruling, the Spanish court said it was closing its investigation for the time being, unless those targeted should come to Spain in the future. It did not clarify what would happen in such a circumstance.

Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda said late last year that the ICC would not be investigating the Mavi Marmara incident, despite what he called a “reasonable basis” to believe that war crimes were committed.

Four Passengers on Challenger 1 in 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla Sue Israeli Government in U.S. Federal Court



Challenger 1 and Challenger 2

Four Passengers on Challenger 1 in 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla Sue Israeli Government in U.S. Federal Court

Three Americans and a Belgian national sued the government of Israel in U.S. federal court in January 2016, seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a deadly 2010 confrontation between Israeli commandos and activists attempting to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.


The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in Washington, DC, were aboard the U.S.-flagged Challenger 1, which was carrying media equipment and 17 passengers and crew members.  American plaintiffs David Schermerhorn, Mary Ann Wright and Huwaida Arraf, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, and Belgian national Margriet Deknopper suffered injuries that included partial loss of sight when a stun grenade exploded inches from one of them and a broken nose when another was hit by a rubber bullet.

“The attack on the high seas was unjustified and illegal under international law,” lawyer Steven M. Schneebaum of Washington wrote in a 21-page complaint, which alleged that the military operations injured more than 150 protesters and included torture, cruel or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and assault.

Under U.S. law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act generally bars lawsuits against foreign governments, except for certain circumstances, including terrorist acts against Americans by U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism.

Ralph G. Steinhardt, a professor of international law at George Washington University Law School and a member of the plaintiffs’ legal team, said the suit may turn on whether a court finds that the action against a U.S.-flagged ship in international waters should be treated as an assault in the United States or that Israel’s conduct was so egregious that it is not entitled to immunity, even in the absence of a U.S. terrorism designation.

On 25th January 2017 we received the Court’s decision to agree to Defendant’s motion to dismiss have been granted. There was no oral hearing and decision was made on paper.  Plaintiffs  have filed our notice of appeal with the Court of Appeal.

Links to the documents in this case are below:


ComplaintFinal (1)




Challenger 1 Lawsuit December Plantiffs response to motion to dismiss




















Audio of the lawyers during the October 16, 2017 US District of Washington, DC Court of Appeals hearing of our appeal from the case being dismissed at the trial court level.  Steven M. Schneebaum, of Washington, DC was our attorney who argued our case in the Court of Appeals.  Stoke and White of London were the lead attorneys with assistance from George Washington Law School professor Ralph Steinhardt.

More Information about the case:

Schermerhorn, et al. v. The  State of Israel, et al

Questions  and Answers

Q What is this case about?

A Israeli Defense Forces attacked a U.S.-flagged ship, The Challenger I, on May 31, 2010, while it  was navigating in international waters. The Challenger I was part of a flotilla seeking to deliver humanitarian aid and  medical supplies to  the residents of  the Gaza Strip, who  were and are still living under a blockade  imposed by the Government of  Israel.

Q Who are the plaintffs?

A. They are four individuals, three of whom are American citizens, who are seeking compensation for the injuries and  losses they suffered in the attack, which they allege violated governing rules of international law.  They were assaulted and beaten. They were hooded, handcuffed  and violently detained. One suffered partial blindness when a stun grenade thrown at him exploded one foot in front of his face. Another was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.  One plaintiff’s head was slammed on deck of the ship and stood upon. Israel has refused to acknowledge its responsibility for the injuries, and not offered any compensation to the victims.

The Challenger I is still being held in Israel, and the U.S. Government has  taken no positive steps to promote  the claims of  the plaintiffs in this case or  the American owners of the  ship.

Q What legal issue does the case present?

A In general, foreign governments may not  be sued  in the courts of  other countries,  under the

doctrine of sovereign immunity. U.S. law, however,  denies sovereign immunity to  defendants in certain specific situations. Among those are instances in which the foreign government or its agents have unlawfully  caused personal injuries in the United  States, or where they  engaged in certain violent  acts, like torture,  that come within the statutory definition of “terrorism.”

The four plaintiffs – humanitarian activists who have been working to highlight the plight of the residents of Gaza for  decades, and who suffered  serious physical  and emotional harm as  a result of the  attack –  allege in this case  that both of  these criteria are satisfied, and that therefore Israel is not entitled to immunity and must  answer to them in a  U.S. court.  The plaintiffs contend that torts committed  on U.S. vessels in international waters  happened “in  the United States,” and that Israel is legally responsible for them,  even if it has never been  designated a “state  sponsor of terrorism.”

Their case is grounded in the congressional determination that U.S. nationals who are victims of such acts as torture –  perpetrated by the  agents of any  state, friend or foe – are entitled to  have their claims  heard in court.

Q What is the current posture of the case?

A The specific allegations on which the plaintiffs’ case rely have never before been  addressed by a judge in this country: this is a  case of first impression. In the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed with the plaintiffs’ legal theories, and dismissed the case. It is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The four plaintiffs are asking the Court of Appeals to proclaim that the abuses to which they were subjected on a U.S  vessel on the high seas are  unacceptable in international  and in American law.

They argue that the exceptions set out by  Congress in  the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act are broad enough to  open the courthouse  doors to them.

Q Isn’t foreign policy outside the jurisdiction of the courts?

A. The plaintiffs are not  asking the court to  adjudicate foreign policy. They are not asking the court to  declare Israel a terrorist state,  or to determine  the legality of  the blockade of  Gaza. Rather, they are seeking relief for a violent, unprovoked,  and unjustified  assault committed on board a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters. If they have no recourse in this country’s  courts, they will  be totally without  a viable remedy for the wrongs  done to them,  and the signal will be sent that American vessels may be  boarded and its passengers abused  by agents of foreign  governments with no  fear of legal liability.

Such as result would be bad law and bad policy. The Schermerhorn case is important to the four plaintiffs, but it should also be important to anyone  concerned about the accountability of states for  the irresponsible  and unlawful  conduct of  those acting in their names.

Q What will happen next in this case?

A The plaintiffs are asking to  have the case  sent back to the district court, so  that it  can take the next steps to  get the dispute  ready for trial. The plaintiffs will  have the burden of proving, by a  preponderance of the  evidence, that they were injured as they say they were:  standard procedure in civil cases. And through depositions and discovery, they will be entitled to explore Israel’s defenses against legal liability for their injuries. They will, in other words, have their day in court, which has been the goal of this  exercise from the beginning.

Washington, D.C

October 16, 2017


























Family of U.S. Citizen Furkan Dogan Murdered by Israeli Forces Sue in U.S. Federal Court Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Family of U.S. Citizen Furkan Dogan Murdered by Israeli Forces Sue in U.S. Federal Court Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak


Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was sued in the United States in October 2015 over his role in the 2010 slaying of Turkish American citizen Furkan Doğan by Israeli commandos who stormed a boat attempting to break the siege on Gaza.  Doğan’s family brings the case against Barak under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign nationals to use US courts in cases alleging violations of international law.

The former Israeli prime minister was served court documents when he was in Los Angeles, California, for a speaking event in November 2015.  Doğan, 19, was shot multiple times at point-blank range during the raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish boat in a flotilla sailing in international waters.  His parents, Ahmet and Hikmet Doğan, filed the lawsuit against Barak.  Barak was defense minister when Israeli forces shot and killed eight Turkish nationals, in addition to Doğan. A tenth victim died from his injuries in May 2014.

The complaint states that Doğan “was tortured and killed” during the raid on the flotilla: “Four of the shots struck Doğan from behind, hitting his head, back, left leg and left foot. The fifth shot struck his face at point-blank range, likely while he was lying on the ground on his back.”  In September 2010, a United Nations fact-finding mission found that Doğan was not killed instantly, but was “lying on the deck in a conscious, or semi-conscious, state for some time.”

In January 2016 Defendant Ehud filed a motion to dismiss the case.


In May 2016, the U.S. submitted a  Statement of Interest followed by Suggestion of


Immunity for Israel.


On October 13, 2016, the U.S. District Court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss,


but in May 2017, the Dogan family submitted an appeal of the court’s decision and the


Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Rachel Corrie Foundation filed an Amicus brief.


A complete timeline of the case can be found here.




Israeli Government Sued in International Criminal Court (ICC) for lethal attack that killed ten persons on Mavi Marmara in 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla


Mavi Marmara in Istanbul


Israeli Government Sued in the International Criminal Court for deaths from attack on the Mavi Marmara

In a separate lawsuit, on 14 May 2013, a referral was received by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) from the authorities of the Comoros, a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, in relation to the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara which was registered in the Comoros Islands.  Six months after Turkey issued its arrest warrants, the OTP announced in its report  under Article 53 (1) Rome Statute that it decided not to investigate the registered vessels situation.

OTP’s decision not to investigate was based on the ‘gravity’ criteria of the Rome Statute. According to the OTP, ‘the potential case(s) likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of “sufficient gravity” to justify further action by the ICC.’  In so doing, the OTP did not consider the other two criteria for declining to investigate, namely, complementarity and the interests of justice. The Comoros ‘appealed’ the OTP’s decision and on 16 July 2015, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) requested the Prosecutor to reconsider its decision not to open an investigation.

Turkish Lawsuits Against the Israeli Government

There have been several lawsuits filed against the Israeli government and government officials on the deaths and injuries to passengers and crew of various boats in the Gaza Flotillas and for the return or compensation of several of the boats.

Mavi marama under Israeli attack

Israeli commandos attacking the Mavi Marmara

Lawsuit against Israeli Government Officials in Turkish Court

In May 2012, a Turkish court ordered the arrest of four Israeli commanders who were allegedly involved in the raid on the the Mavi Marmara aid ship off Gaza in 2010.

The Istanbul 7th Court of Serious Crimes also decided May 26, 2012 to request an Interpol Red Notice for the arrest of former Israeli Chief of Staff, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, former Naval Forces Cmdr. Eliezer Alfred Marom, former Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlinir and former Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi, who are all being tried in absentia.  The court pressed formal charges in May 2012 with the first trial held in November 2012.  The court argued that an arrest warrant had become necessary for the legal procedure as the defendants had neither attended the trial nor responded to an invitation sent to them through the related department of the Turkish Justice Ministry.

However, in December 2016, the Turkish court dropped the case against four Israeli military officials charged over a deadly raid on a ship in an aid flotilla bound for Gaza in 2010.  Arrest warrants for the four were also dropped. Dropping the charges was a key part of a deal agreed between Israel and Turkey this June to normalize bilateral ties.  Under a deal reached in 2016, Israel agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the victims of the raid. In return, Israeli nationals would not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.  The deal allowed Turkey and Israel to restore normal relations in June 2016, mending a six-year rift that followed the flotilla incident.

The day before the judges in Istanbul rendered their ruling, the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary suspended the observer status of the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors in the organization, citing concerns that the Turkish judiciary is no longer sufficiently independent from Turkey’s executive and legislative branches.


Mavi Marmara trial: Court insists on Interpol notice

The next hearing for Mavi Marmara case that is going on at Istanbul 7th Criminal Court is scheduled at 11th-12th March 2015.

The next hearing for Mavi Marmara case that is going on at Istanbul 7th Criminal Court is scheduled at 11th-12th March 2015.

The 7th hearing of Mavi Marmara Case was heard on Tuesday 9th December 2014 at Istanbul 7th Criminal Court. During the hearing which started at 10 am, the testimonies of IHH Board Member Att. Gülden Sönmez, Mehmet Yıldırım, Palestinian activist Ahsan Shamruk who was wounded at the head during the attack and English activist Laura Stuart were heard.

The court scheduled the next hearing at 11th-12th March 2015 in order to continue hearing the testimonies of the victims and witnesses.

Complainants, lawyers and audience have attended the hearing at the court. The president of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation Bülent Yıldırım and Mavi Marmara Case attorney Cihat Gökdemir made a press release in front of the court.

Attorney Cihat Gökdemir pointed out that there were more than 500 passengers on board Mavi Marmara ship. “Some of them are heard at the previous hearings. In this hearing international victims from abroad and some victims from Turkey were heard. British citizen Palestinian activist Ahsan Shamruk’s testimony was taken lately. He said in his testimony because he speaks Hebrew, he was able to understand what Israeli soldiers were talking among each other and he heard them say “We shot the leader” when they shot him on purpose as he resembles IHH president Bülent Yıldırım.”

Gökdemir: We request Arrest Warrant to be Forwarded to Interpol

Att. Gökdemir reported that he asked the court to send an alias writ to the Ministry of Justice in order to inquire about the arrest warrant.

The attorney Gökdemir who spoke in front of the court prior to the hearing said that previously the court has issued arrest warrants for the Israeli commanders of the time and requested Interpol Notice about the defendants.

“The ministry of foreign affairs’ diplomats and Defence Ministry bureaucrats who failed to forward the arrest warrants about the commanders to the Interpol should be held accountable. We warn you. We will ask the court to inquire about the results regarding the arrest warrants issued to the Ministry of Justice” he said.

“There are troyan horses who block the case”

IHH President Bülent Yıldırım noted that it was the seventh hearing into the case and said: “I am not sure what else should be heard about this case. Everything is so obvious. There are so many witnesses from around the world. The murderers are out there; Liberman, Natenyahu and the cabinet members at the time. Now only the officers are prosecuted. But the tall order came from Israeli government. It is the same government of Natenyahu and his cabinet that gave the demolition order for Masjid al-Aqsa, giving rights to the settlers, throwing away the Quran and gave orders to the marines to carry out the attack. Therefore we are telling you that these Zionists are not to be trusted. Turkey had a diplomatic victory and they apologized. OK, let the things return to normal. The existence of a compensation whether it is small or big is important. But we set on this way to remove the blockade. All the world agreed with us. UN, EU Parliament and all nations agreed with us. They said that the blockade is illegal. But these Zionists are still not removing the blockade” 

Yıldırım highlighted that the information and the documents are withheld from International Criminal Court on purpose.“The Union of Comoros has referred the case to ICC. The head consular to the president of The Union of Comoros wished to come to Turkey to discuss the issue. Unfortunately he was not granted a visa after waiting one week in both Tanzania and Kenya. The arrest warrant issued by the court is not forwarded to Interpol. Who is responsible from all these? Whether they like us or not the president, the prime minister, all political parties, NGOs, all institutions and bodies and peoples are resolute. Their resolution is that the murderers should be found. In spite of all this resoluteness, who are those Troyan horses who refrain from sending the arrest warrant to Interpol? We demand administrative interrogation into this matter. An interrogation should be carried out at one. We believe that the court will request the same and the arrest warrants will be referred to Interpol.” he said.

Freedom Flotilla which was sailing to Gaza in order to remove the inhumane blockade on the city was attacked in international waters by Israeli marines. While 10 Turkish citizens were killed on board Mavi Marmara flagship dozens of people were wounded.

Following the bloody attack on Freedom Flotilla, the activists started a legal struggle in order to bring the murderers to justice. In the previous hearing of the case which was referred to the Turkish courts as a part of the legal struggle the court has issued arrest warrants about the Israeli generals.

35 Boats Challenge Israeli Naval Blockade of Gaza in Ten Years-2008 through 2018

In ten years from 2008 through 2018, international activists have sailed 35 boats to challenge the Illegal and inhuman Israeli naval blockade of  the 1.9 million Palestinians who are trapped in Gaza.

              FREE GAZA MOVEMENT

             AUGUST-DECEMBER 2008

In August 23-29, 2008, two boats, the Liberty and Free Gaza with a total of 44 passengers, reached Gaza. These boats were sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement and the story of the boats told in the book Freedom Sailors and on their website.

In 2006 during the Israeli attack on Lebanon, five former volunteers of the International Solidarity Movement; Greta Berlin, Renee Bowyer, Paul Larudee, Sharon Lock and Mary Hughes Thompson, began working on a mission to send boats into Gaza. They became the co-founders of the Free Gaza movement. It took two years, thousands of volunteers, close to $700,000 raised from around the world, 44 passengers and two ramshackle fishing boats to accomplish that first trip.
In the next eight years, 2008 through 2016, international activists sailed 31 boats to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. Five of them were successful in breaking Israel’s draconian siege on 1.8 million Palestinians in this besieged enclave.

              Historic First Voyage

        Liberty and Free Gaza boats

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 4.45.35 PM
Spirit of Humanity in Gaza

On August 23, 2008, 44 ordinary people from 17 different countries sailed from Cyprus to Gaza on two small wooden boats, the FREE GAZA and the LIBERTY. They did what our governments would not do – they broke the Siege of Gaza. The boats encountered rough seas and many of the passengers suffered from severe seasickness. At sea, they were tracked by Israeli naval vessels for over half of the journey, and the boats’ navigation systems were jammed and interfered with. When the two boats arrived safely in Gaza on 23rd August after over 30 hours at sea, they were welcomed by tens of thousands of Palestinians lining the shore.

The passengers stayed in Gaza for 6 days, visited hospitals and schools, and delivered donated hearing aids and medicines. During the stay the Free Gaza boat and several passengers accompanied Palestinian fishermen at sea. This accompaniment helped the fisherman fish in their own territorial waters without being assaulted by the Israeli navy for the first time in several years.

The boats left on 29th August, returning to Cyprus with 7 Palestinians. These included 5 family members who were reunited with the rest of this family in Cyprus, whom they had not seen for several years. Also on board was 15-year-old Saed and his father who were leaving to obtain medical treatment for Saed,  who lost his leg and was severely injured in an Israeli attack. They became the first Palestinians in modern history to freely leave their own country. For  the first time in over 40 years, international ships docked at Gaza Port. For the first time in over 60 years, Palestinians freely entered and exited their  own country.

Ten passengers remained behind in Gaza, six of them on a long term basis, undertaking human rights work and forming the first international presence of the International Solidarity Movement since 2003.

In the words of Palestinian voyager, Musheir El-Farra, a human rights activist originally born and raised in Khan Younis in Gaza but currently living in Sheffield, UK: “For the first time in my life, I went to Gaza without being humiliated, without having to ask Israel for permission. We did it. We finally did it. And now others must join us and do it as well.”

Great Video of first voyage from DAVID SCHERMERHORN.  Video of the first boats to Gaza in 2008  and Gaza fishers. The end of the video has footage from the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, including the beginnings of the Israeli attack on the Challenger 1 as she sped away from the Mavi Marmara.  The video ends as the commandos shot a percussion grenade into the cabin of  the Challenger 1

Dignity boat in Gaza


People of Gaza stand on the docks of Gaza City to greet the first boats to arrive in Gaza in 40 years.

List of passengers, supporters and Palestinians brought out on the  First Voyage. 

First name Last name Country Notes
Anne Montgomery United States Catholic nun
Adam Qvist Denmark
Aki Nawaz Pakistan
Anastasios Kourakis Greece
Anastasios Kourakis, MD, MP Greece Member of Greek Parliament
Andrew Muncie Scotland
Ayash Derraji Algeria Al Jazeera
Bill Dienst, MD United States
Christos Giouranopoulos Greece Cinamatographer
Courtney Sheetz United States Nurse
Darlene Wallach United States
David Schermerhorn United States Videographer
Derek Graham Ireland First mate
Donna Wallach United States
Edtih Lutz, PHd Germany
Fathi Jaouadi Tunisia
Georgios K Greece
Georgios Klontzas Greece Captain, Liberty
Greta Berlin France/US Co-Founder
Hayyan Jubeh Palestine Rammatan
Huwaida Arraf, LLD Palestine
Jeff Halper, PhD Israel
Jenny Linnell UK
John Klusmire United States Captain, Free Gaza
Kathleen O’Connor Wang United States
Kathy Sheetz United States
Ken O’Keefe Ireland
Lauren Booth UK
Maria del Mar Fernandez, LLD Spain
Mary Hughes Thompson Canada/UK Co-Founder
Musheir El Farra Gaza, Palestine
Nicolos Bolos Greece
Panagiotis Politas, PhD Greece
Paul Larudee, PhD United States Co-Founder
Peter Phillips United States
Petros Giotis Greece
Ren Tawil United States
Renee Bowyer Australia Co-Founder
Sharyn Lock Australia Co-Founder
Theresa McDermott Scotland
Thomas Nelson, LLD United States
Vagillis Pissias, PhD Greece
Vittorio Arrigoni Italy
Yannis Karripidis Greece Cinamatographer
Yvonne Ridley UK Press TV
Land Crew
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein Israel
Bianca Shanaa Palestine
David Halpin, MD UK
Hedy Epstein Germany/United States
Lynn Levey United States
Osama Qashoo Palestine
Ramzi Kysia United States/Lebanon
Scott Kennedy United States
Susan Halpin UK
Uri Davis, PhD Israel/Palestine
Gaza Supporters
Jamal El-Khoudary Gaza, Palestine Independent MP
Mona Al-Farra, MD Gaza, Palestine
Palestinians Brought Out
Darwish Family of five Gaza, Palestine Reunited with family in Cyprus
Khaled Moslah Gaza, Palestine Father
Saed Moslah Gaza, Palestine Leg blown off

2nd Voyage to Gaza: The DIGNITY’s Maiden Voyage

Italian Opera Singer Joe Fallisi, Free Gaza organizer Lubna Masrawa, and Palestinian activist Ghazi Abourashed, singing as they arrive in Gaza (October 2008)

On October 28-November 1, 2008, on the second trip to Gaza, another boat,  the “Dignity,” with 27 passengers broke the blockade and  sailed into Gaza.  On October 28th, 2008, the Free Gaza Movement made its second voyage to Gaza, this time aboard the DIGNITY, a new ship, better able to make the journey in the rough winter weather. Although Israeli warships trailed our small ship when they approached Gaza, the IOF did not attempt to use force against the boat, and the Dignity was able to once again break through their blockade.

Palestinian legislator & Presidential candidate Mustafa Barghouti, aboard the DIGNITY (October 2008)Aboard the Dignity were 27 doctors, lawyers, journalists, and human rights workers, representing 12 different countries. The passengers included Palestinian legislator Mustapha Barghouti, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, and Italian opera singer Joe Fallisi – who delivered Gaza’s first ever opera concert. The passengers also included Caoimhe Butterly, a renowned human rights worker who stayed on as the first Free Gaza co-ordinator, working alongside the Palestinian NGO Network and the Popular Committee Against the Siege, our partner organizations inside Gaza.
Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire with Gaza human rights activists Dr. Mona El-Farra, Dr. Eyad Seraj, and Amjad Shawa
After watching the Dignity’s arrival Fida Qishta, the local coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the Gaza Strip, said “If Gaza is free then it’s our right to invite whomsoever we wish to visit us. It’s our land and it’s our sea. Now more groups must come, not only by sea but also the crossings at Erez and Rafah must be opened as well. This second breaking of the siege means a lot, actually. It’s the second time in two months that people have come to Gaza without Israel’s permission, and that tells us that Gaza will be free.”

Passengers and land crew for the second voyage.  Check the Free Gaza website for biograpies:

Passengers 2nd Voyage
Audrey Bomse, LLD US
Alan Lonergan  Ireland 
Ali Al-Jabar, Al Jazeera  Qatar 
Amir Siddiq, Al Jazeera  Sudan 
Caoimhe Butterly  Ireland 
David Schermerhorn US
Denis Healey, Captain  UK 
Derek Graham  Ireland 
George Klontzas, Captain  Greece 
Ghazi Abourashed Holland/Gaza
Gideon Spiro, Journalist  Israel 
Huwaida Arraf  USA/Palestine 
Ibrahim Hamami, MD UK
Jock McDougall, MD UK
Joe Fallisi  Italy 
Lubna Masarwa  Palestinian4/Israel
Mairead Maguire  Ireland 
Marco Giusti  Italy 
Mohammed Alshubashi, MD Germany
Mustafa Barghouti  Palestine 
Nikoals Bolos  Ireland 
Ramzi Kysia  USA 
Renee Bowyer  Australia 
Rod Cox  UK 
Theresa McDermott  UK 
Vilma Mazza  Italy 
Land Crew
Greta Berlin France/US
Ramzi Kysia Lebenon/US
Osama Qashoo Palestine
Fida Qishta Palestine, in Gaza

Video of first trip of Dignity to Gaza

3rd Voyage to Gaza-Dignity’s Second Trip

A week later, November 8-11, 2008, the third trip with the “Dignity” with 24 passengers, including Parliamentarians, sailed again to Gaza.

Parliamentarians arriving in gaza nov 08

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 22.14.22

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 4.41.40 PM

In November 2008, the DIGNITY made its second successful voyage to Gaza, carrying 24 Passengers. On this voyage, the Free Gaza Movement joined with the European Campaign to end the Siege to bring over a ton of medical supplies to Gaza, accompanied by 11 past and current European parliamentarians from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and Switzerland, including the Baroness Jenny Tonge, Lord Nazir Ahmad and Clare Short, the former British Secretary for International Development. They were part of a much larger group of 53 European parliamentarians who had been denied entry to the Gaza Strip earlier in November. Journalists from Al Jazeera, Haaretz and the Independent (UK newspaper) were also on board for a three day fact finding tour of the Gaza Strip. The passengers also included Eva Bartlett, a Canadian activist who remained in Gaza to increase the number of international human rights workers there.

In addition to delivering medicines, the parliamentarians toured hospitals, schools, agricultural centers, and Gaza’s power plant, as well as meeting with their counterparts in the Palestinian Legislature.

The Dignity left Gaza on 10th November carrying an additional eight Palestinians for the return journey, including the secretary for the Independent Union for the Labour Leagues in Gaza. He came aboard the DIGNITY to speak to syndicates and university students in Spain, and encourage them to participate in breaking the siege on Gaza. Also on board were an elderly Palestinian couple. After suffering from a stroke in 2007, the husband was not allowed out for treatment through either Rafah or Erez. The couple had not seen their children since the siege began in 2006.

1 Hass, Amira (Israel)
2 Ahmed, Nazir (Lord) (Pakistan/UK)
3 Andrews, Christopher (Ireland)
4 Bartlett, Eva (Canada)
5 Bolos, Nikolas (Greece, Palestine)
6 Hass, Amira (Israel)
7 Healey, Denis (UK)
8 al-Haj, Sami (Sudan)
9 Graham, Derek (Ireland, Palestine)
10 McNeill, Pauline (Scotland)
11 Morena, Fernando (Spain)
12 Nacer, Mohamed (UK)
13 O’Donnell, Hugh (Scotland, UK)
14 ÓSnodaigh, Aengus (Ireland)
15 Rossi, Fernando (Italy)
16 Arraf, Huwaida (US, Palestine)
17 Sharp, Rob (UK)
18 Schermerhorn, David (USA, 
19 Shoukri, Dr. Arafat (Palestine, UK)
20 Short, Clare (UK)

21Thomas, Rhodri Glyn (Wales, UK)

The passenger list (see below) and biographies are posted at 

Lord Nazir Ahmed, (Pakistan/UK),
Christopher Andrews, (Ireland),
Huwaida Arraf, (US),
Eva Bartlett, (Canada),
Nikolas Bolos, (Ireland),
Sami Moheildin Mohamed Elhag (Sudan),
Derek Graham (Ireland),
Amira Hass (Israel)
Denis Healey, (UK),
Pauline McNeill (Scotland),
Fernando Morena (Spain),
Mohamed Nacer, (UK),
Hugh O’Donnell, (Scotland, UK),
Aengus ÓSnodaigh, (Ireland),
Fernando Rossi, (Italy),
David Schermerhorn, (USA),
Rob Sharp, (UK) (The Independent),
Clare Short, (UK),
Dr. Arafat Shoukri, (Palestine, UK),
Rhodri Glyn Thomas, (Wales, UK),
(Baroness) Dr. Jenny Tonge, (UK),
Sandra White, (Scotland, UK),
Josef Zisyadis, (Switzerland)

4th Voyage to Gaza-Dignity’s Third Trip

One month later, December 8-11, 2008, on the fourth trip to Gaza, the “Dignity” with 16 passengers, including students, sailed again into Gaza

Professors Jonathon Rosenhead and Mike Cushman, aboard the DIGNITY (December 2008)

On December 8th 2008, the Free Gaza Movement sent in a “students” delegation, headed by professors Mike Cushman and Jonathon Rosenhead of the London School of Economics and BRICUP – the British Committee for Universities for Palestine. The delegation toured schools and universities in Gaza to assess the impact of the siege on education, and successfully brought out 11 Palestinian students who had been accepted to universities abroad, but were unable to exit Gaza due to the Israeli siege. They are just a handful of the over 700 Palestinian students who have visas to study at universities in Europe, but who have been forbidden to leave by Israel and Egypt, another example of the collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza.

According to Rosenhead and Cushman, “As academics we are particularly pleased to be traveling on the Dignity on this mission to enable at least some of the hundreds of students trapped in Gaza by the Israeli siege to get out and take up their places at universities round the world. This siege is an affront to any idea of academic freedom or human rights. How can anyone justify preventing young people from fulfilling their potential and learning how to serve their community more fully?”

Professors Cushman & Rosenhead, meeting with the Academic Trade Union in Gaza (December 2008)Also on board the DIGNITY on this voyage was a British surgeon, Dr. Sonia Robbins, travelling to Gaza to volunteer in local hospitals. Dr. Robbins had worked in Gaza previously but had been prevented from returning by the siege. The boat also carried a Palestinian who had been denied the right to see his family in Gaza for several years, international human rights workers, and journalists.

The Dignity carried a ton of medical supplies and high protein baby milk formula. Two human rights workers remained in Gaza to join the teams working there, including Ewa Jasiewicz, who joined Caoimhe Butterly as our co-coordinator on the ground in Gaza.

Passengers and crew

1 Captain: Denis Healey (UK)
2 First Mate: Derek Graham (Ireland/Palestine)
3 Delegation Leader: Lubna Masarwa (Palestine 48 / Israel)
4 Othman Abufalah (Jordan)
5 Naser Attaallah (Palestine)
6 Mike Cushman (UK)
7 Ewa Jasiewicz (UK/Poland)
8 Bella Lock (Australia/Palestine)
9 Dr. Sonia Robbins (UK)
10 Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead (UK)
11 Firas Tawfeeq (Iraq)

5th Voyage to Gaza-Dignity’s Fourth Trip

One week later, December 18-19, 2008, on the fifth trip, the “Dignity” with 14 passengers called the “Qatari” delegation, returned to gaza.

1 Klontzas, George, Captain
2 Bolos, Nikolas (Ireland)
3 Arraf, Huwaida – Delegation Leader (US, Palestine)
4 Abou-Chakra, Natalie (Lebanon)
5 Fayez Al-Omary (Palestine)
6 Al-Qahtani, Aiz (Qatar)
7 Al-Qutaibi, Talal (Qatar)
8 Arce, Alberto (Spain)
9 Arrigoni, Vik (Italy)
10 Eldar, Shlomi (Israel)
11 Elemare, Faiez (Palestine)
12 Golan, Neta (Israel)
13 Naser, Katia (Qatar)
14 Shakir, Theiar (Iraq)

On December 27, 2008, the Israeli military began its 22 day attack on Gaza that killed 1440 persons, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless.  No boats were allowed into Gaza after the Israeli attack on Gaza began.

6th Voyage-Dignity Did NOT Get to Gaza

On December 28-29, 2008, the sixth trip with the Dignity with 16 passengers, was rammed and almost sunk by the Israeli navy and slowly limped into a harbor in Lebanon.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 13.03.45

Dignity after being rammed by an IOF ship

Video of damaged ship Dignity coming into Lebanon harbor

1 (UK) Denis Healey, Captain
2 (Greece) Giorgios Klontzas, Relief Captain
3 (Greece) Nikolas Bolos, First Mate
4 (Jordan) Othman Abu Falah
5 (Australia) Renee Bowyer
6 (Ireland) Caoimhe Butterly
7 (Cyprus) Ekaterini Christodulou
8 (Sudan) Sami El-Haj
9 (UK) Dr. David Halpin 10(Germany) Dr. Mohamed Issa
11 (UK/Tunisia) Fathi Jaouadi
12 (USA) Cynthia McKinney
13 (Cyprus) Martha Paisi
14 (UK) Karl Penhaul
15 (Iraq) Thaer Shaker
16 (Cyprus) Dr. Elena Theoharous, MP

               7th Trip , But Spirit of Humanity did NOT get to Gaza

                 JANUARY-JULY 2009


Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 4.51.10 PM

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 4.39.08 PM

On January 12-15, 2009, on the seventh trip the ferry boat Arion now called the The Spirit of Humanity with 36 passengers, was forced by the Israeli navy to turn back and return to Cyprus.

In February 2009, the cargo ship Tali from Lebanon, not part of the Free Gaza Movement, was attacked by the IOF and taken to Israel.

         8th Trip-Spirit of Humanity

Stolen by Israeli Military & Passengers & Crew Put in Jail

On June 29-July 7, 2009, the Spirit of Humanity, on the eighth trip with 21 passengers was forcefully stopped by Israeli commandos, its passengers taken to Israeli prison and deported,–a first in the eight trips the Free Gaza Movement made,  and the boat taken to the Haifa, Israel harbor.

Photos from the video link below.

Here is a link link to a unique 7 minute video of the Israeli military stopping the Spirit of Humanity in July 2009 in international waters-most footage of Israeli military zodiac boats approaching the boats to Gaza is never sees the light of day–so this is very rare!  The video has passengers on the boat, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Congressperson Cynthia McKinny speaking about their solidarity with Palestine.  All passengers and crew spent 7 days in Givon prison in Israel.  This is the first group that was stopped and put in prison and then deported.

Free Gaza Boat ‘Spirit of Humanity’ Departs Cyprus,%20with%20World%20Silence.htm

Spirit of Humanity

1 Mormesh Adnan (UK)
2 Kathy Sheetz (US)
3 Ishmahil Blagrove (Jamaica, UK)
4 Still to come
5 Adam Shapiro (US)
6 Cynthia McKinney (US)
7 Derek and Jenny Graham (Ireland)
8 Lubna Marsawa (Palestine, Israel)
9 Mairead Maguire (Ireland)
10 Denis Healey (UK, Cyprus)
11 Fathi Jaouadi (Tunisia, UK)
12 Theresa McDermott (Scotland)
13 Huwaida Arraf (Palestine, Israel, US)
14 Adam Qvist (Denmark)
15 Waltraud Schauer (Austria)


                           MAY 2010


A year later in May 2010, an international flotilla of 7 boats challenged the Israeli blockade.  Israeli Offensive Forces violently attacked all 7 boats, killing 9 on the Mavi Marmara with another passenger dying later and wounding over 50.  Passengers on all boats were assaulted, kidnapped and taken against their will to Israel where they were interrogated, imprisoned and deported.

                     MAVI MARMARA

Mavi Marmara in Istanbul

Mavi marama under Israeli attack

Photo by  Kate Geraghty

Mavi Marmara by Marcello Fraggi

Photo of Israeli helicopters and gunboats around the Mavi Marmara. Photo by Marcello Fraggi

Mavi Marmara under Israeli attack that killed 9 immediately and wounded 50.  Another person died later.

photos of 9 killed on Mavi Marmara

Photos on the side of the Mavi Marmara of 9 killed by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara-a tenth person died later.

Names of the ten humanitarians on board the Mavi Marmara killed by Israeli commandos on 31 May 2010, nine were killed immediately and one subsequently died:

Ibrahim Bilgen
Ali Haydar Bengi
Cevdet Kiliçlar
Çetin Topçuoglu
Necdet Yildirim
Fahri Yaldiz
Cengiz Songür
Cengiz Akyüz
Furkan Dogan
Ugur Suleyman Soylemez

Their boats were stolen by the Israeli government.  Later in 2010, the Mavi Marmara was returned to Turkey with blood still on the decks from the murder of nine and wounding of 50.

After two years of continuous demands to the Israeli government and pressure on the Greek government for assistance, in mid-June, 2012, Greek activists succeeded in getting released from Israel two ships that had sailed in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The passenger ship Sfendoni and the cargo ship Eleftheri Mesogeios, or Sofia had to be towed out of the Haifa, Israel harbor due to damage caused by Israeli commandos and intelligence agents when they attacked the ships on May 31, 2010. The Sofia was towed to Turkey and the Sfendoni was towed to the Greek port of Piraeus arriving on June 20, 2012. A video of the return of the Eleftheri Mesogeois can be seen here:

The Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) sponsored the Mavi Marmara with 581 passengers, and two cargo ships, the Gazze with five passengers and the Defne Y with 27 passengers. The European Campaign to End the Siege sponsored the passenger boat Sfendoni with 45 passengers. The Greek and Swedish Boat to Gaza campaign sponsored the Eleftheri Mesogeios or Sofia cargo ship with 10 passengers. The Free Gaza Movement sponsored Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 boats. The Challenger 1 had 17 passengers. The Challenger 2 developed mechanical troubles attributed to sabotage by Israeli commandos and did not depart from Cyprus. Challenger 2 passengers were placed on the Challenger 1 and the Mavi Marmara.

The Free Gaza Movement and the Malaysian Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) sponsored the cargo ship Rachel Corrie with 21 passengers. The Rachel Corrie had sailed from Ireland and did not arrive in the Mediterranean in time to go with the other ships of the flotilla. She was boarded by Israeli commandos and taken to Haifa Harbor on June 5, 2010, five days after the main flotilla was attacked.

There were 688 passengers from 41 nations on all the seven ships of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla.  Notable flotilla passengers included Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace prize winner, Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General, Edward Peck, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım, the İHH president, Haneen Zoubi, an Israeli-Arab member of Knesset.

A partial list of the names of the passengers on all the boats is available at this link:

Great video by David Schermerhorn of Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The video has the first boats to Gaza in 2008 , Gaza fishers and at the end the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, including the beginnings of the Israeli attack on the Challenger 1 as she sped away from the Mavi Marmara.  The video ends as the commandos shot a percussion grenade into the cabin of the Challenger 1.

                   SFENDONI PASSENGER SHIP

sfendoni boat to gaza

The European Campaign to End the Siege sponsored the passenger boat Sfendoni with 45 passengers.

After two years of continuous demands to the Israeli government and pressure on the Greek government for assistance, in mid-June, 2012, Greek activists succeeded in getting released from Israel two ships that had sailed in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The passenger ship Sfendoni and the cargo ship Eleftheri Mesogeios, or Sofia had to be towed out of the Haifa, Israel harbor due to damage caused by Israeli commandos and intelligence agents when they attacked the ships on May 31, 2010. The Sofia was towed to Turkey and the Sfendoni was towed to the Greek port of Piraeus arriving on June 20, 2012.

SfendonI passengers as of May 29, 2010:
Abbas Nasser (Lebanon)
Ahmed Ouninoun (France)
Alexandr Vojta (Cze)
Almahdi Alharati (Ireland)
Amil Sarsour (Sweden)
Amin Aberrashid (NL)
Angela Lano (Italy)
Aprodite Thravalou (Greece)
Aris Chatzistefanou (Greece) –> went over to the Mavi Marmara on May 30, 2010
Benderbal Youcef (France)
Berbagua Salah (France)
Bibel Abdul Azziz (GB)
Bouzidi Mouloud (France)
Campani Chalenf (Greece)
Christos Tsigaridas (Greece)
Dimitra Kyrillou (Greece)
Edward Peck (U.S.A.)
Elnafaa Elaati (Morocco)
Gene St. Onge (U.S.A.)
Henry Ascher (Sweden)
Issam Ben Ali (Ireland)
Issam Zaatar (Belgium)
Jan Linek (Cze)
Janet Kobren (U.S.A.)
Joe Fallisi (Italy)
Joe Meadors (U.S.A.)
Katerina Kitidi (Greece)
Khalid Turaani (U.S.A.)
Kim S. Aguayo (Sweden)
Lieros Georgios (Greece)
Manolo Luppichini (Italy)
Manuel (Italy)
Marcello Faraggi (Belgium)
Maria Psara (Greece) –> went over to the Sophia on May 30, 2010
Mario Damolin (Germany)
Mounia Cherif (France)
Muin Qaraqei (Italy)
Nikos Valkanos (Greece)
Paul Larudee (U.S.A.)
Petr Zavadil (Cze)
Renanhs Dhmhl8ios (Greece)
Svetoslav Ivanov (Bulgaria)
Thanos Petrogiannis (Greece)
Ulf Carmesund (Sweden)
Valentin Vasile (Bulgaria)
Zdenek Lokas (Cze)
Zenasni Miloud (France)
Captain: Theodorus Boukas (Greece)
Crew: Spiros Avgiris (Greece)
Issam Zaatar
Marcello Faraggi
Svetoslav Ivanov
Valentin Vasile
Alexandr Vojta
Jan Linek
Petr Zavadil
Zdenek Lokas
Mario Damolin
Aris Chatzistefanou (went over to the Mavi Marmara)
Katerina Kitidi
Maria Psara (went over to the Free Mediterranean)
Angela Lano
Manolo Luppichini
Abbas Nasser

The other five boats, Challenger 1,  and cargo ships Free Mediterranean, Dafne Y, Gazze, and Rachel Corrie were stolen by Israel and remain in the Israeli harbor of Haifa.

Challenger 1 and Challenger 2

Challenger 1 and Challenger 2

Challenger 1 and Challenger 2   Challenger 1 and 2 were sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement and both developed steering mechanism problems on the way to the meeting point with the other boats from probable sabotage while in Crete.  Both went to Cyprus for repairs.  Passengers on the Challenger 1 and 2 were transferred to the Mavi Marmara for 2 days until Challenger 1 returned with members of Parliament from European countries.  The members of Parliament boarded the Mavi Marmara while most of the original Challenger 2 passengers went onto Challenger 1.  Challenger 2 did not sail from Cyprus, only Challenger 1.  Challenger 2 was later sold to the Irish campaign and became the Saiorse that sailed in November 2011.

Challenger 1 at sea

Challenger 1 at sea

 Biographies of Passengers on Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 from Crete

Paul McGeogh (Australian Journalist)

Kate Geraghty (Australian photo journalist)

Griet Deknopper (Belgium)

Inge Neefs (German member of Parliament transferred to Mavi Marmara)

Kevin Niesh (Canadian transferred to Mavi Marmara)

Nader El Sakka

Annette Groth (German member of Parliament transferred to Mavi Marmara)

Inge Hoge (German member of Parliament transferred to Mavi Marmara)

Matthia Jochheim (German member of Parliament transferred to Mavi Marmara)

Norman Peach (German member of Parliament transferred to Mavi Marmara)

Fintan Lane (Ireland)

Lubna Marsawa (Palestine, Israel)

Mustapha Mansor

Anna De Jong (Netherlands)

Randi Kios

Espen Goffeng (Norway)

Nidal Hejazi

Hassan Norwarah

Iara Lee, (U.S. documentarian with Cultures of Resistance)

Srojan Stojkikoric (Videographer with Cultures of Resistance-transferred to Mavi Marmara

Ewa Jasiewicz (U.K. and Poland)

Alex Harrison

Gehad Sukker

Huwaida Arraf (U.S., Palestine, Israel)

Kathy Sheetz (U.S.)

Scott Hamman (U.S.)

Ann Wright (U.S.)

Dennis Healy (U.K. and Cyprus)

Fiachra O’Luain (U.S. and Ireland)

Teresa McDermott (Scotland)

David Schmererhorn (U.S.)

Chris Andres

Aengu O’Snodaigh (Ireland)

Kyricos Triantaphyllides (Greece)

Nicolas Shahshashani (French)

Shane Dillon (Ireland)  First-mate

Inge Neefs (Belgium).

Passengers on Challenger 1 that sailed to Gaza

Paul McGeogh (Australian Journalist)

Kate Geraghty (Australian photo journalist)

Griet Deknopper (Belgium)

Fintan Lane (Ireland)

Anna De Jong (Netherlands)

Alex Harrison (U.K.)

Huwaida Arraf (U.S., Palestine, Israel)

Kathy Sheetz (U.S.)

Scott Hamman (U.S.)

Ann Wright (U.S.)

Dennis Healy (U.K. and Cyprus) Captain

Shane Dillon (Ireland)  First-mate

Inge Neefs (Belgium).

Fiachra O’Luain (U.S. and Ireland)

Teresa McDermott (Scotland)

Cargo Ship Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie ship

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 22.10.01

The Free Gaza Movement and the Malaysian Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) sponsored the cargo ship Rachel Corrie with 21 passengers. The Rachel Corrie had sailed from Ireland and did not arrive in the Mediterranean in time to go with the other ships of the flotilla. She was boarded by Israeli commandos and taken to Haifa Harbor on June 5, 2010, five days after the main flotilla was attacked.

xxxx need passengers/crew listsxxx

                       Gazze Cargo Ship

.Gazze Cargo Ship

Gazze Cargo Ship. The Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) sponsored the Mavi Marmara with 581 passengers, and two cargo ships, the Gazze with five passengers and the Defne Y with 27 passengers.

xxxx Need passenger / crew list for Gazze xxxx

Eleftheri Mesogeios or Sofia Cargo Ship (Greek and Swedish boat)

Sofia ship to Gaza

Eleftheri Mesogeios or Sofia Cargo Ship (Greek and Swedish boat)

After two years of continuous demands to the Israeli government and pressure on the Greek government for assistance, in mid-June, 2012, Greek activists succeeded in getting released from Israel two ships that had sailed in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The passenger ship Sfendoni and the cargo ship Eleftheri Mesogeios, or Sofia had to be towed out of the Haifa, Israel harbor due to damage caused by Israeli commandos and intelligence agents when they attacked the ships on May 31, 2010. The Sofia was towed to Turkey and the Sfendoni was towed to the Greek port of Piraeus arriving on June 20, 2012.

Passengers on the Eleftheri Mesogeios

Saman Ali, aktivist
Dror Feiler, artist
Victoria Strand, MD physician
Mehmet Kaplan,MP Green Party
Henning Mankell, author

Amil Sarsour,
Kim Soto Ayugo
Ulf Carmesund
Henry Ascher, MD physician

Mavi Marmara
Mattias Gardell, professor
Edda Manga

xxxneed Greek crew and passengersxxx

                      Defne Y Cargo Ship

Defne Y Cargo Ship 2010

Defne Y Cargo Ship

The Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) sponsored the Mavi Marmara with 581 passengers, and two cargo ships, the Gazze with five passengers and the Defne Y with 27 passengers.

xxxxxNeed passenger/crew list xxxxxx

                                                                            SEPTEMBER 2010

Irene, the Jewish Boat to Gaza

In September 2010, a small sailboat named Irene, called the Jewish Boat to Gaza with nine Jewish activists was stopped by the IOF and two former IOF soldiers assaulted and tasered.  Passengers were Reuven Moskovitz, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor; Rami Elhanan, a founder of the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians, whose daughter was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber; Lillian Rosengarten, an American activist from New York who escaped Nazi Germany as a child, Marion Kozak, the mother of the former leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, is a prominent member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Yonthan Shapira and Itamar Shapiro, former members of the IOF.

Passengers and crew were taken to Israel, interrogated, imprisoned and deported and the boat stolen by the Israeli government.

Jewish boat to Gaza

Irene, International Jewish Boat to Gaza

Irene, Jewish boat to Gaza with 2 IOF commando boats

Irene boarded by IOF commandos


In June 2011, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II had 9 ships sponsored by 11 non-governmental organizations.  The Israeli government paid the Greek government to stop the boats from leaving Greek ports. The U.S. and Canadian boats attempted to leave Greek waters but were stopped by Greek naval commandos.

Audacity of Hope from the United States

Audacity of Hope-US Boat to Gaza01

Audacity of Hope US Boat to Gaza 2011

Greek commandos stop the US Boat to Gaza 2010.png

Greek commandos on behalf of the State of Israel stop the US Boat  to Gaza, Audacity of Hope, 5 miles off the coast of Athens, Greece


Nic Abramson

Johnny Barber

Medea Benjamin
Greta Berlin
Hagit Borer
 Regina Carey
Gale Courey Toensing
Erin DeRamus
 Linda Durham
Debra Ellis
Hedy Epstein
 Steven Fake
Lisa Fithian
 Ridgely Fuller
Megan Horan
 Kathy Kelly
Kit Kittredge
 Libor Koznar
Kaleo  Larson
Richard Levy
Richard Lopez
Ken Mayers
Ray McGovern
Gail Miller
Carol Murry
Robert Naiman
 Henry Noor
Ann Potter
Kathy Sheetz
Max Suchan
 Brad Taylor
Len Tsou
 Alice Walker
Paki Weiland
Ann Wright
Aaron Mate, Democracy Now
Hany Massoud, Democracy Now
Joseph Dana, The Nation
xxx, New York Times
xxxx, CNN
Captain and Crew
John Klusmire,  Captain
Yonathan Shapira, crew
David Smith, crew
David Schermerhorn, crew
OJ Linnell, crew
 Organizers and ground support
Jane Hirschmann
Laurie Arbeiter
Ann Wright
Dorothy Zellner
Sarah Wellington
Leslie Cagan
Helaine Meisler
Donna Nevel
Jen Hobbs
Brad Taylor
Alan Levine
Barbara Briggs-Letson

Photos, Videos, Blogs & articles of Gaza Flotilla

US Boat to Gaza passengers’ bios

5 minute video by Johnny Barber of Greek commandos stopping the Audacity of Hope US Boat to Gaza

Slow Boat to Gaza by Ray McGovern–photo essay

Len Tsou’s photos

Louise Michel from France  


Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.11.17

Louise Michel from France  

(xxx need passenger list and photos xxx)

Gernika from Spain

Gernika en Gythio

Protesta contra el bloqueo del Gernika en Kolimpary02

Gernika passenger protest against Greek government helping Israelis by refusing to let 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla boats depart Greek ports

Protesta contra el bloqueo del Gernika en Kolimpary01

Passengers on the Gernika in Crete, June 2011

  2. WILLY TOLEDO, actor
  4. MARINA ALBIOL, Politician, coordinator Esquerra Unida País Valencià
  5. SANTIAGO ALBA RICO, Spanish philosopher and author, lives in Tunisia
  6. MERCEDES LEZCANO, Theater director, ex member of the Madrid Assembly PSOE (Socialist Party)
  7. RAFA PALACIOS, ex General Director of international cooperation in government of Asturias
  8. ALICIA ALONSO – Sodepaz Balamil Valladolid.
  9. MARIA DEL RIO DOMENECH – Sodepaz Balamil Valladolid
  10. ALEJANDRO ANDARES RUETTER FRIDMAN, Argentinian of Jewish origin
  12. IGNACIO PRIETO – Madrid
  14. LAURA ARAU – Catalunya
  15. MANUEL TAPIAL – Madrid
  17. MANUEL PINEDA – Málaga, Andalucía
  18. DIEGO CAÑAMERO – Sevilla, Andalucía
  19. EDORTA JIMENEZ – Euskadi
  20. MIKEL ZULOAGA – Euskadi
  22. ANTON GOMEZ REINO – Galiza
  23. CARMEN SALAVERT – País Valencia, CEDSALA
  24. CARMEN PEREZ CARBALLO — member of Madrid Assembly for United Left Party
  25. ALBERTO GARCIA WATSON – Málaga, Andalucía
  26. JAVIER ANDREU – Alicante, País Valencia
  27. MONCHO GONZALEZ BOAN – Galiza, secretario relaciones int’l CIG
  28. ALVARO TOEPKE – Alicante, País Valencianas
  29. ALVARO H.S. Martín ¿? – Madrid
  30. ZOHAR CHAMBERLAIN REGEV – Israeli citizen, lives in Huelva, Andalucía
  31. SALVA LACRUZ – País Valencianas
  32. FERNANDO CORZO – Galiza
  34. DOLORS FABREGAS – Barcelona, Catalunya
  36. MANUEL GARCIA – Málaga, Andalucía
  37. XXXXX Need captain and crew names XXXXX


Activists gesture from the Stefano Chiarini ship during a demonstration in Corfu

xxxxxxxx Need  passenger list xxxx

                                 Tahrir Canadian/Australian/Belgian/Danish Boat to Gaza

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 7.47.12

Tahrir Canadian/Australian/Belgian/Danish Boat to Gaza (after being stopped by Greek Coast Guard in Crete)

Kayakists in front of Greek Coast Guard boat for Tahrir 2010.png

Canadian Kayakists slowed down the response of Greek Coast Guard ship that was trying to stop Canadian Boat to Gaza from leaving Crete for Gaza.

Canadian Boat to Gaza -Crete-2011

Passengers on Tahrir-Crete-2011

Canadian Delegates

Lyn Adamson

Sue Breeze

Stéphan Corriveau

Karen DeVito

Bachar Elsolh

John Greyson 

Muhammed Hamou

David Heap

Miles Howe

Soha Kneen

Mary Hughes-Thompson

Robert Lovelace

Irene MacInnes

Manon Massé

David Milne

Kevin Neish

Dylan Penner

Marie-Eve Rancourt

Harmeet Singh Sooden

Jase Tanner

Kate Wilson

Josy Dubié , Belgium

Guido Gorissens , Belgium

Yannick Van Onckelen, Belgium

Asmaa El Mourabiti, Belgium 

 Vivienne Porzsolt , Australia

Sylvia Hale , Australia

Nick Wallwork, Australia

Michael Coleman , Australia

Charlotte Lund , Denmark

Tahrir Passenger list with bios is here:

     Greek – Swedish Boat to Gaza- Juliano

Juliano boat

Greek and Swedish boat organizers working on their damaged ship Juliano in the port of Pireaus. Photo by Karla Larson

Need passenger list of xxxxx Juliano xxxxx

           Irish Boat to Gaza-Saoirse

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 22.18.30

Fintan Lane and Sabotaged Saiorse

Fintan Land explaining the damage done to the Irish Boat to Gaza.

The  Irish Boat to Gaza -the Saoirse- was sabotaged in Turkey in the same manner that the Greek boat in Piraeus had been sabotaged.

The June 2011 ‘Saoirse’ passengers were:

Fintan Lane (Dublin – co-ordinator)
Gerry MacLochlainn (Derry)
Charlie McMenamin (Derry)
Zoe Lawlor (Limerick)
Mags O’Brien (Dublin)
Shane Dillon (Dublin – skipper)
Jim Roche (Dublin)
John Hearne (Waterford)
Pat Fitzgerald (Waterford)
Rik Walton (Donegal)
Paul Murphy MEP (Dublin)
Gerard Barron (New Ross)
John Mallon (Belfast)
Chris Andrews (Dublin)
Hugh Lewis (Dublin)
Roman Kurkiewicz (Poland)
Felim Egan (Dublin)
Phil McCullough (Belfast)
Trevor Hogan (Tipperary/Dublin)

Eleftheri Mesogeios cargo ship from Greek and Swedish  campaigns

Sofia ship to Gaza

This boat was in the 2010 flotilla  and Israeli courts ordered it and the Sfendoni returned to its owners who had both ships towed to Greece.

xxxxNeed passenger/crew lists and photos xxxx

Dignite Al Karama (see below)

                                                                     JULY 2011

In July 2011, the French yacht  Dignité Al Karama was stolen by the IOF 65 kilometers off Gaza and the 16 passengers and crew were kidnapped to Israel, interrogated, imprisoned and deported.

The ship had been allowed to sail from the Greek island of Kastelorizo whose mayor was born in Gaza.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 2.53.32

Dignite Al Karama from France  with IOF commandos surrounding

Aboard the DIGNITY:

Stéphan Corriveau, Coordinator of Canadian boat to Gaza;

Dror Feiler, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza-Sweden, President of the European Jews for a Just Peace, artist, musician, composer;

Jérôme Gleizes, France, Europe Ecologie Les Verts;

Jacqueline Le Corre, France, Médecin-Collectif 14 de soutien au peuple palestinien, member of Parti communiste francais;

Jean Claude Lefort, former MEP, French Communist Party –PCF, president France-Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS);

Claude Léostic, spokesperson of Un bateau français pour Gaza;

Yamin Makri, France, Collectif 69 de soutien au peuple palestinien;

Omeyya Naoufel Seddik, Tunisian, Fédération des Tunisiens pour une citoyenneté des deux rives (FTCR), and Ligue tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH), Phd in Political Science;

Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, spokesperson of Un bateau français pour Gaza, Researcher, Political Science, Middle East Studies, at the Institut francais du proche Orient;

Vangelis Pissias, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza-Greece, Professor at Technical University of Athens;

Amira Hass, Israeli journalist – Haaretz;

Ayyache Derradji, Journalist from Al Jazeera;

Stéphane Guida, Cameraman from Al Jazeera; with

Zacharia Stylianakis, Captain;

Hilaire Folacci, Mariner;

Yannick Voisin, Mariner;

Jo Leguen, Navigator

                             NOVEMBER 2011 

                          Tahrir and Saoirse

In November 2011, the two boat flotilla named Freedom Waves, the Canadian-Australian-Danish-Belgian  boat Tahrir with 12 passengers and crew and the Irish boat Saoirse with 15 passengers and crew sailed from Turkey and were stolen by the IOF 30 miles off the coast of Gaza.

Tahrir ship to Gaza

Tahrir – Canadian/Australian/Belgian/Danish Boat to Gaza

Passengers and crew on Tahrir:

Tahrir delegates 2011-

 6 delegates:
Ehab Loyayef, (Canadian)
David Heap, (Canadian)
Karen DeVito,
Michael Coleman,
Kit Kittredge, (US)
Majd Kayyal:
 Captain George Klontzas (Greek)
Five journalists:

Lina Attalah (Egypt),

Casey James (US),

Aimane Zoubir (Morocco),

Jihan Hafiz (US),

Hassan Ghani (UK)

Saorsie boat to Gaza Saorise- Irish boat to Gaza


Mags O’Brien,

Fintan Lane,

Hugh Lewis,

Trevor Hogan,

Chris Andrews,

John Hearne,

Pat Fitzgerald,

John Mallon,

Phil McCullough,

Billy Smith,

Paul Murphy,

Felim Egan,

Ger Barron

Captain Zach

Tahrir and Saoirse attacked by IOF

Tahrir and Saoirse attacked by IOF commandos

                                                                              OCTOBER 2012 


In October 2012, the Swedish boat Estelle with 30 passengers sailed around Europe and the Mediterranean before heading for Gaza and was stolen by the IOF. In August 2013 the state of Israel filed a petition to confiscate the vessel. In August 2016, the Israeli supreme court ruled that the state cannot confiscate the Estelle, and ordered to state to pay NIS 40,000 (approximately $10,500 USD) to the ship’s owner to cover court costs.

Estelle ship to Gaza

The Supreme Court ruled that the state should have immediately asked the court for the confiscation of the ship and shouldn’t have waited for ten months. The state did not conduct negotiations with the owner of the ship, did not respond to appeals by the owners and did not inform the owners about its intentions.

A movie by Laura Aura about the 3 month voyage of the Estelle  from Sweden and Norway to many ports throughout Europe is here:


Estelle passengers and crew

Member of Parliament Hagen Aksel Norway

  • Member of Parliament Britton Sven Sweden
  • Member of Parliament Kodelas Dimitios Greece
  • Member of Parliament Sixto Ricardo Spain
  • Member of Parliament Diamantopoulos  Evangelos Greece
  • Former Member of Parliament Manly James Canada
  • Opperdoes Joel Arvid Alexander Sweden
  • Andreasson Charles Bertil Sweden
  • Särner Daniel Karl-Erik Sweden
  • Uddebrant  Johan Lars OS Sweden
  • Widell Anders Nils Olof Sweden
  • Reksten Herman Elias Norway
  • Elhanan Elazar Israel
  • Sjøstrøm Nils Johan Norway
  • Koivisto Velimati Finland
  • Hammervold Jan Petter Norway
  • Feiler Dror Sweden
  • Svenberg Kristian Sweden
  • Boethius Maria-Pia Sweden
  • Mor Reut Israel
  • Jämiä Mika Finland
  • Arau Crusellas Laura Spain
  • Ramazzotti Stockel Marco Italy
  • Shapira Yonathan Israel
  • Tiktopoulos Mikhalis Greece
  • Zabale Gouzalet  BegoÒa Spain
  • Stamellos Loukas Greece
  • Piassas Evangelos Greece
  • Gardell Mattias Sweden
  • Vinthagen Stellan Sweden


Gaza’s Ark was more than a project; it was the building of hope for Palestinian artisans, traders and exporters through peaceful action against the blockade of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

In 2013 and 2014, with financial and logistical support from friends around the world, Palestinian workers transformed a 25 metre long fishing boat into a cargo boat to sail out of Palestine from the port of Gaza City, carrying Palestinian products and passengers in defiance of the Israeli blockade. Organizations and individuals in Australia, North America and Europe purchased  over $24 000 USD worth of Palestinian export goods via the Gaza’s Ark project.

Gaza’s Ark had been reconstructed in Gaza by Palestinian hands and expertise, with international assistance where requested.  Gaza’s Ark has helped revitalize the dwindling ship building industry in Gaza and to ensure the transmission of this disappearing expertise (another effect of the blockade) to the younger generations.

Through Gaza’s Ark and trade deals secured between Palestinian producers in Gaza and international businesses and NGOs, a channel was established to export Palestinian products from Gaza that are available despite the blockade.

Gaza’s Ark was preparing to provide training to Gaza’s sailors in the use of up-to-date electronic sailing equipment and techniques, which they have been denied for years as a result of the blockade.

Although it helped in a very limited manner to alleviate Gaza’s unemployment crisis by paying wages to the boat builders and providing business opportunities to traders, Gaza’s Ark was not an aid project. It was a peaceful action against the blockade which Israel unilaterally and illegally imposes on Gaza.

Gaza’s Ark stood in solidarity with the Palestinian fishers in Gaza whose ability to operate in territorial waters and to derive a livelihood is threatened by the same illegal Israeli blockade which our campaign is challenging.

Gaza’s Ark challenged the blockade by building hope on the ground in Gaza.  It affirmed our confidence that the Palestinians of Gaza can rebuild their economy through outbound trade that threatens no-one’s security.

Although the Israelis may have destroyed this boat they will not destroy hope.

The project endured many difficult challenges and obstructions that delayed its planned sailing. The boat was nearly ready to sail in the spring of 2014, until an explosion was detonated on the boat at 3.45am on April 29th. Extensive damage was caused.


(Gaza’s Ark after it was attacked on 29 April 2014)

Gaza Ark’s organizers remained determined after this attack and continued to work on the project, repairing the damage and setting a new sailing timeline for September, 2014. The boat was on track for her September sailing when the Israeli offensive began in early July 2014, which killed more than two thousand people, injured thousands more and caused massive destruction across the Gaza Strip, with damage to homes, factories, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.

On 10 July 2014,  Gaza was on fire as F16 attacked and the Israeli navy fired on the seaport. At about 2am Gaza’s Ark was hit by a missile and was quickly engulfed in flames. The bombardment was so severe that the Civil Defense firefighting crews were unable to enter the seaport. The Ark was burned to a skeleton.image

The Gaza’s Ark was attacked in the midst of the Israeli offensive to ensure that news of its destruction was lost in the larger story of the war in the western media. Publicity of the attack would have proved to the international community that Israel will do whatever they can to prevent exports from Gaza and to stop Palestinians from developing their economy. Ultimately, that’s the main reason for the siege. Current exports are only 3% of the 2006 amounts. When you consider the siege you think about how hard it is to import materials and goods, but in fact the blockade on exports is far more harmful to the economy.     (Written by Charlie Andreasson, activist with Ship to Gaza – Sweden and volunteer worker and Quality Control Manager on Gaza’s Ark 2013-2014.)

For more information about Gaza’s Ark, go to

             JUNE 2015  Freedom Flotilla III-


                 Juliano 2, Rachel and Vittorio

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 13.20.42

Route of the Marianne from Sweden to Gaza.  The other 3 boats joined the Mariann off the coast of Crete, Greece

In June 2015, four boats in Freedom Flotilla III, sailed from Greece carrying 47 passengers from 17 countries.  Two other boats were scheduled to sail but were unable to do so. The Swedish ship Marianne had sailed from Sweden for several months with stops in Europe and the Mediterranean.  The Marianne had 18 passengers when was stolen by the IOF. The other three boats, the Rachel, Vittorio, Juliano 2, returned to port in Greece.   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 bore much-needed aid, the main cargo was, as always, human solidarity and non-violent direct action for the respect of human rights.

The passengers on the four boats were:

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)
Charlie Andreasson (Sweden)
Ammar Al-Hamdan (Norway / Aljazeera Arabic)
Mohammed El Bakkali (Morroco / 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 (Greece / Doctor)
[K] (Greece / Crew)
[X] (Greece / Crew
Marietta Simegiatou (Greece)
Aissa Boukanoun (France / Journalist, Euronews Arabic)

VITTORIO (Greek flag, 9 people)
Ann Wright (USA / retired U.S. Army colonel & former State Dept. Official)
Nasser Hamdaduche (Algeria / MP)
[D] (Greece / Crew)
[L] (Greece / Doctor)
Gerd von der Lippe (Norway / Professor in Sports Sociology & 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 Tamagnini (Italy / International Solidarity Movement)
Anas Nairoukh (Jordan)
Lennart Berggren (Sweden / Freelance journalist)
Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi (Morocco / MP, ruling party)
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)

A maritime court in Haifa, Israel in November 2015 approved  the Israeli government’s request to seize the Marianne.

Marianne was boarded in international waters by the Israeli navy on the 29th June 2015 during an attempt to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The ship conducted under duress to Israel where the crew and the international delegates who were on board first imprisoned and later deported from Israel. Thereafter, the vessel, owned by the Swedish Ship to Gaza, sold as scrap – by the Israeli Navy. Gaza has filed a claim for compensation for the full value of the ship, while the Israeli government claims that it has the legal right to seize the ship.

The same court has previously rejected the Israeli demand to seize the Ship to Gaza Finnish-flagged sailing schooner S / V Estelle as was accomplished in identical circumstances in October 2012. A verdict that was confirmed by the Israeli Supreme Court in June this year.

In both cases, the state has a way compelled to rely on the British Naval price Act of 1864, a law which it claims is applicable in Israel as a legal relic of the time of the British Mandate in Palestine, 1920-1948.

Naval price act came originally to sanction States legal claim to get cut civilian merchant ships during the war. It has until now not been raised in any court since World War II.

The Court’s argument to accept the requirement to obtain seize Marianne – despite the fact that they rejected the same requirements in terms of the S / V Estelle – based on Navy in the former case were waiting over 10 months after the boarding of producing any legal requirements.

The Israeli Navy in this way must try to revive an over 150 year old law from the era of completely different principles of international law have been noted with some surprise by maritime law experts.

Gaza is now in consultation with their Israeli lawyers to decide whether to appeal the Maritime Court.

Marianne ship to Gaza

Marianne-Swedish Ship to Gaza

2015 Sailboats to Gaza

One of the three sailboats on the 2015 flotilla

A MaoriTV media team of senior journalist Ruwani Perera and award-winning, free-lance camera operator Jacob Bryant, reported on the 2015 Freedom Flotilla III attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Facilitated by Kia Ora Gaza, the Native Affairs team joined other international journalists on the board the flotilla to observe and document the mission.

Here are the links to their two part documentary.



               SEPTEMBER 2016  Women’s Boats to Gaza


Zaytouna and Amal boats to Gaza

Zaytouna Oliva and Amal 1 in Barcelona Harbor

In September 2016, two boats, the Amal and the Zaytouna Oliva, were a part of the Women’s Boats to Gaza sailing 1,715 miles to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. The Amal suffered a major engine problem in Barcelona, Spain and was unable to accompany the Zaytouna.   The Zaytouna sailed from Barcelona to Corsica to Sicily and finally to 34 miles off Gaza where it was stolen by the IOF and 13 women passengers and crew from 13 countries were kidnapped, interrogated, imprisoned and deported.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 5.55.44

The Women’s Boat to Gaza, the Zaytouna Oliva, set sail from Barcelona, Spain on Sept. 15 to bring international attention to this Israeli-imposed darkness. We sailed with 13 women on our initial voyage, a three-day trip to Ajaccio, Corscia, France.

Captain and Crew

Captain Madeline Habib from Australia, who has decades of captaining and sailing experience recently as the Captain of the Dignity, a Doctors Without Borders ship that rescues migrants from North Africa.


Emma Ringqvist from Sweden

Synne Sofia Reksten from Norway.

The international participants selected to be on this part of the journey were:

Co-Boat Leaders:

Wendy Goldsmith, Canadian social-worker human rights campaigner,

Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat  Women’s Boat to Gaza  co-leaders of the boat


Rosana Pastor Muñoz, member of Parliament and actor from Spain;

Malin Bjork, member of the European Parliament from Sweden;

Paulina de los Reyes, a Swedish professor originally from Chile;

Jaldia Abubakra,  Palestinian from Gaza now a Spanish citizen and political activist;

Dr. Fauziah Hasan, medical doctor from Malaysia;

Yehudit Ilany, political consultant and journalist from Israel;

Lucia Muñoz, Spanish journalist with Telesur;

Kit Kittredge, U.S. human rights and Gaza activist

Delegates Unable to Sail from Barcelona Due to Malfunction of Amal 1

Other participants who had flown to Barcelona but were unable to sail due to the breakdown of the second boat, Amal-Hope, were:

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 6.09.16

Co-Boat Leaders:

Zohar Chamberlain Regev, a German and Israeli citizen resident in Spain

Ellen Huttu Hansson-Sweden

Lisa Fithian- U.S. – internationally recognized non-violence trainer

Norsham Binti Abubakr,-Malaysia- medical administrator

Gail Miller- U.S.-Palestine activist

Crew members:

Laura Pastor Solera from Spain,

Marilyn Porter from Canada

Josefin Westman from Sweden.

Ivory Hackett-Evans, a boat captain from the United Kingdom, flew to Barcelona and then to Messina from work with migrants in Greece to help find another boat in Sicily to replace the Amal-Hope.

A new group of women joined us in Ajaccio, Corsica, France for the 3.5-day trip from to Messina, Sicily, Italy. Besides our crew, the participants were:

Boat co-leaders

Wendy Goldsmith from Canada

Ann Wright from the U.S.;

Medical Doctor Dr. Fauziah Hasan from Malaysia;

Latifa Habbechi, member of Parliament from Tunisia;

Khadija Benguenna, Al Jazeera journalist and broadcaster from Algeria;

Heyet El-Yamani, Al Jazeera Mubasher On-Line journalist from Egypt;

Yehudit Ilany, political consultant and journalist from Israel;

Lisa Gay Hamilton, TV actor and activist from the United States;

Norsham Binti Abubakr, medical administrator from Malaysia;

Kit Kittredge, U.S. human rights and Gaza activist.

Messina, Sicily, Italy to Gaza trip

A third group of women sailed for nine days and 1,000 miles from Messina, Sicily, to 34.2 miles from Gaza before the Israeli military stopped us in international waters, 14.2 miles outside the illegal 20-mile Israeli imposed “Security Zone” that limits access to Palestine’s only port located at Gaza City.

The ten women participants and three crew members were:

Nobel Peace Laureate from Northern Ireland Mairead Maguire

Algerian Parliamentarian Samira Douaifia

New Zealand Parliamentarian Marama Davidson;

Swedish First Substitute Member of the Swedish Parliament Jeanette Escanilla Diaz (originally from Chile);

South African Olympic athlete and university student rights activist Leigh Ann Naidoo;

Spanish professional photographer Sandra Barrialoro;

Malaysian medical doctor Fauziah Hasan

Al Jazeera journalists British Mena Harballou

Lebanese citizen Hoda Rakhme living in Russia

Retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright

Captain Madeleine Habib from Australia

Crew member Emma Ringqvist from Sweden

Crew member Synne Sofia Reksten from Norway

Participants who were not able to sail from Messina due to lack of readiness of Amal 2

While the Zaytouna-Olivia sailed to Sicily, our international coalition attempted to find a second boat to continue the mission to Gaza. Despite great efforts, ultimately a second boat could not be fully crewed due to the delayed timeline and many women who traveled from around the world to Messina were unable to go on the final voyage to Gaza.

That group’s participants were:

Çigdem Topçuoglu, a professional athlete and trainer from Turkey who sailed in 2010 on the Mavi Marmara where her husband was killed;

Naomi Wallace, playwright of Palestinian issues and author from the U.S.;

Gerd von der Lippe, athlete and professor from Norway;

Eva Manly, retired documentary maker and human rights activist from Canada;

Efrat Lachter, TV journalist from Israel;

Orly Noy, online journalist from Israel;

Jaldia Abubakra, Palestinian from Gaza now a Spanish citizen and political activist;

boat co-leaders from the international Freedom Coalition

Zohar Chamberlain Regev, a German and Israeli citizen resident in Spain,

Ellen Huttu Hansson from Sweden,

Wendy Goldsmith from Canada;

and crew members:

Sofia Kanavle from the U.S.,

Maite Mompó from Spain

Siri Nylen from Sweden.

A First-Hand Account of Women’s Boat to Gaza

Women’s Boat to Gaza 2016 (video with song for Women of Palestine+) – YouTube

May 15, 2017 – Uploaded by Freedom Flotilla Coalition

The Women’s Boat to Gaza was a non-violent challenge to the illegal and inhuman blockade of Gaza …

Lyrics for the Song for the Women of Palestine
Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 16.16.15

Palestinians thank the Women’s Boat to Gaza – YouTube

Oct 3, 2016 – Uploaded by We Are Not Numbers

Writers from explain the importance of the sea to every Palestinian from Gaza, and …

Many photos of Women’s Boat to Gaza here:

                           2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla

           “The Right to A Just Future for Palestine”

                              May 15-August 3, 2018

Map of 2018 Gaza Flotilla

The 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla “The Right to A Just Future for Palestine” began its voyage in mid- May from several ports in Scandinavia.

3 boats of 2018 flotilla in Scandinavia

Two boats – Al Awda (The Return) and Freedom sailed along the Atlantic coast, while two other boats – Mairead (for Nobel Peace Laureate and great supporter for Palestine Mairead Maguire) and Falestine travelled via European canals and rivers, the first time any of the Gaza flotilla boats had attempted this route.

At the instigation of the Israeli Ambassador to France, Paris police patrol boats refused to let the two small boats stop on the Seine River in Paris for planned educational activities-but the refusal got the flotilla publicity.

Video of the police preventing the Gaza flotilla boats from stopping in Paris.

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.

Al Awda with Filestine & Mairead Maguire in background

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, as well as on our social media sites, Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately due to a mechanical issue and a crewing issue, the two small boats Falestine and Mairead ended their voyage in the Mediterranean and could not directly confront the illegal Israeli blockade.

2018 flotilla map from Siciliy to Gaza

Al Awda and Freedom left Palermo on 22 July 2018 on their final leg to the port of Gaza, Palestine.  Al Awda had 22 crew and participants and Freedom had 12 crew and passengers. The Israeli military stopped both boats in international waters, Al Awda on July 29 and Freedom on August 3, arrested the crew and delegates, beat two crew members badly, tasered  four and broke the ribs of three, took them against their will to a country they did not want to go-Israel, imprisoned them and ultimately deported them.

Medical Supplies

As this is written in mid-September 2018, forty-five days after stopping the two boats, the Israeli military has not sent the 114 boxes of medical supplies (sterile gauze and sutures) worth over 10,000 euros to Gaza as required by international law.

Photo of Crew and Participants on Al Awda on the way to Gaza.

Al Awda delegates & crew on final leg

The 22 crew and participants on the final leg of Al Awda were:

Zohar Regev Chamberlain- Spain-Boat Leader
Gerd von der Lippe- Norway- Freedom Flotilla Coalition, professor and journalists
Dr. Mohd Afandi Salleh- Malaysia – Professor
Herman Reksten-  Norway- Captain
Charles Andreasson-Sweden- First Mate
Yonathan Shapira-Israeli- crew member
Mikkel Grünner – Norway- crew member
Jorgen Pederson – Norway – crew member and chef
Jan Petter Hammervold – Norway – crew members and chef
Arne Birger Heli -Norway – engineer
Divina Levrini – Sweden – Human rights activist
Larry Commodore – First Nation representative from Canada
Mike Treen – Trade Union representative from New Zealand
Lucia Mazzarrasa Alvear- Spain – Professor of Nursing (retired)
Joe Meadors -United States – Survivor of Israeli attack on USS Liberty in 1967
Sarah Katz – France – Demographer (retired)
Chris Graham – Australia – Journalist
Dr. Swee Chai Ang – UK – Physician & co-founder of Medical Assistance for Palestine
Jason Soo – Singapore -Journalist
Emilia Nacher Verdaguer – Spain – Nurse
Merouane Metidji – xxx- Al Jazeera Journalist
Abdelmounim Elamrani – xxxx- Al Jazeera Journalist

Photo of Crew and Participants on Freedom

Crew & Participants on Freedom 2018 flotilla

The 12 crew and participants on the final leg of Freedom were:

John Turnbull – Canada- Captain 

Francisco Canales – Spain

Anna Dressler  – Germany/Sweden

Ferry Sarpooshan – Sweden / Iran

Tobbe Larsson – Sweden

Ellen Hansson – Sweden

My Leffler – Sweden

Carl-Robert Staiger – Sweden

Pascal Maurieras – France

Karin Sanfridson – Sweden

Ian Diez Young – UK/Spain

Richard Sudan – UK – Journalist

The crew and participants on Falestine that had to stop in Greece due to mechanical problems caused by a storm after leaving Sicily are:

Andreas Gustafsson – Sweden – Captain

Jan Stromdahl – Sweden

Nils Andersson  – Sweden

Gabor Tiroler – Sweden

Schedule of Boats Around and Through Europe to Sicily

Al Awda and Freedom stopped in the following cities and local Palestinian supporters helped organize educational events to emphasize the horrific conditions that Palestinians are living under in Gaza and the West Bank.

Bergan, Norway  –Al Awda begins its journey

May 15 Gothenberg, Sweden –Freedom, Falestine and Mairead begin their journeys

My 20 – 21 Copenhagen, Denmark— All Four boats meet and begin the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla

May 27-28 Kiel, Brunsbuttel and Wilhelmshafen, Germany

May 31- June 3 Amsterdam, the Netherlands –Falestine and Mairead leave Al Awda and Freedom to begin their journey down the waterways and canals of the Netherlands, Belgium and France to the Mediterranean

June 5-8  Brighton, UK – Freedom stops in Brighton

June 4-5 Jersey, Channel Islands, UK -Al Awda stops in Jersey

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 21.49.15

June 7-9 La Rochelle, France 

June xxxx  Gijon, Spain

June 19-22 Lisboa (Cascais), Portugal

June 23-26  Cadiz, Spain

June 29-July 1 Malaga, Spain (technical stop)

Tunis, Tunisia (Freedom made an emergency stop in Tunis, Tunisia for a journalist who needed an emergency appendectomy

July 2-4  Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

July 5-8  Ajaccio, Corsica, France

July 10-14 Naples, Italy  

July 16-22 Palermo, Italy

July 22-23 Messina, Italy (with small team)

Off to Gaza

Inside Al Awda

Articles and Videos on 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla


May 29, 2018 Palestinian Flotilla Sailing OUT OF GAZA–Al-Hurriyah (Liberty)

Boat FROM Gaza May 29, 2018

Boat from Gaza attempts to break Israeli blockade

By Mohammed Arafat

See more at:

Photo of Abdul Menim Aabed, patient on boat out of Gaza

Abdul Menim Aabed, 27, is among a crowd of Gazan Palestinians who are anxious—despite the obvious danger—to be among the first to try to sail out of Gaza tomorrow on Al-Hurriyah (Liberty). The boat is being organized by the Great Return March National Organizing Committee and will carry 35 Gazans who hope to receive medical treatment or to study abroad.

“I can’t walk right anymore and I can’t get the treatment I need here in Gaza,” says the wheelchair-bound Aabed, who was shot in both legs at the border protest May 4. “I’m desperate.”

The plan for the requisitioned fishing boat is to attempt its departure on May 29, the eighth anniversary of the Israeli attack on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara, one of the ships in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that tried to break through the blockade. When Israeli troops halted the flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, nine activists were killed. The international outrage that followed forced the Israeli government to ease the blockade somewhat by allowing more goods into Gaza, but it has remained in place.

Protest organizers have warned potential passengers it is likely the Al-Hurriyah will be attacked by the Israeli navy and they could be arrested as well. Still, Aabed and others are lining up to register for this first attempted voyage or for others that will follow.

Kamal Tarazi

Another hopeful passenger is Kamal Elias Tarazi, a Palestinian from Bethlehem who traveled through Egypt to Gaza to visit family members in 2012 and has been stuck there ever since, despite repeated attempts to leave.

“My health is bad and I want to go home,” he says. “I’ve tried to leave through [Egypt’s] Rafah crossing dozens of times, but they refuse to let me out.”

Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing for the duration of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, temporarily easing the border blockade of Gaza enforced by Israel for the past 12 years. But more than 20,000 residents hoping to travel are on the waiting list, a backlog created by long periods of closure, and Egyptian border officials are clearing about 400 travelers attempting to leave a day, about a third of the usual volume in past years.

For those with money, there’s also the option of what Gaza residents sarcastically call “Egyptian coordination.” This refers to payments, reportedly up to $3,000 per traveler, to Palestinian middlemen who claim to have connections on the Egyptian side. Few Gazans have that kind of money, however, and sometimes these middlemen simply pocket the fee without producing any results.

Permits are even more difficult to obtain to travel out of Gaza via the Israeli Erez exit. In April, for example, only about half of all requests by to leave for urgent health care were approved.

Holding a poster thanking Turkey and other countries for being willing to accept Palestinians, Tarazi didn’t seem scared about attempting to travel by boats since he has “tried all other means to get out. I don’t care if these boats are hit by the Israeli army. I have to try everything to get treatment and go back home to Bethlehem.”

Tarazi’s message to the world is the same as that of all of Gazans interviewed: to help break the Israeli siege.

“We have thousands of injured people here in Gaza and they must get treatment outside Gaza,” he says.

Yousef Abu Arish, director general for the Gaza Ministry of Health, said at a news conference that the health care system in the Strip is unable to deal with the large number of wounded (more than 13,000 to date) from the Great Return March.

“We’re working in inhumane conditions in terms of the extent of the injuries and the number of wounded being brought in at the same time to the shock room and the operating rooms. As skilled as the staff is and as much as they want to help the victims, in the end they’ll collapse under the burden,” Mahmoud Matar, MD, a specialist in orthopedics at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City told the Haaretz newspaper.

Adnan al-Barash, MD, added that surgeons are seeing complex injuries, including bullet-exit wounds 15 centimeters wide. “There’s no question the Israeli army is using bullets and other very dangerous weapons that leave very complex injuries requiring prolonged treatment, which the health care system in Gaza is unable to provide,” he said.

Mavi Marmara, attacked in 2010
The Mavi Marmara

The attempt to address this crisis by sailing a boat out of Gaza comes one week after the launch of a three-ship flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade from the outside. The group includes a fishing boat owned by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition named Al-Awda (Arabic for return), which left the Norwegian port of Bergen April 30, and three ships sponsored by Sweden’s Ship to Gaza movement–the Heria (another English spelling for the Arabic word for freedom, or liberty), Falestine (Palestine) and Mairead (after the Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate and BDS activist Mairead Maguire, who was on board the 2010 flotilla in which the Mavi Marmara participated). Although the Free Gaza Movement successfully sailed five times into Gaza, all flotillas since 2008 have been forcibly stopped by the Israeli navy.

Israeli aircraft targeted and destroyed a boat May 23 in the Gaza City harbor that had been due to sail to meet this latest flotilla should it actually succeed.

“Gaza has become a big prison isolated from the world. The Palestinians of Gaza are banned from the exercising the simplest of human rights due to the Israeli siege,” said Salah Abdul Atti, a member of coordination committee for the Great Return March, when the attempt to sail out was announced. No further details on the boat or the first round of selected passengers were released, to try to protect them from Israeli reprisal.

During the press conference, students, injured people, children and others held posters saying, ‘’We dream to have a seaport’’ and “We are waiting for your ships and delegations to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.’’ One group held pictures of the nine passengers who were killed during the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara.

Ismail Ridwan, a leader with the Hamas government, noted, “Our case [against Israel] is political, and humanitarian cases should not be linked to political debate because health care and education are basic human rights.”

One 60-year-old woman who refused to give her name attended, even though she is too sick to travel by boat. Nevertheless, she said she came to the seaport to “support and encourage those who will participate so we can break the siege that is suffocating us.”

Posted: May 28, 2018

– See more at:

IDF intercepts Gaza boat trying to escape the blockade

Carrying 17 people, including university students, cancer patients, and protesters wounded by Israeli forces during the Great Return March, the Gaza boat was headed towards Cyprus before IDF gunboats intercepted it.

By Meron Rapoport, Mohammed Zaanoun, and +972 Magazine Staff

The Gaza "Freedom Boat" in port in Gaza, before attempting to break Israel's naval blockade. (Mohammed Zaanoun/

Israeli gunships intercepted a Palestinian boat attempting to break Israel’s naval siege of the Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon. The attempt to break the blockade comes two weeks after Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands of others at the Gaza-Israel separation barrier on Gaza’s eastern boundary.

The boat was headed to Limassol, Cyprus, and was part of a small flotilla comprised of three boats in total. The two other boats turned back and did not breach the naval blockade line enforced by the IDF. The IDF does not allow Palestinians to venture more than nine miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The boat that the IDF intercepted was carrying 17 people. Those on board were mainly university students, but also included cancer patients and protesters wounded during the Return March seeking medical care outside of the besieged Gaza Strip, flotilla participants said.

“We are two university graduates, we lost hope of finding work in Gaza. Life in Gaza is impossible. We want a secure future. We are leaving for the sake of freedom,” flotilla participants Shadi al Nakleh, 28, and Ihab abu Armaneh, 29, told +972 correspondent Mohammed Zaanoun.

“We have no connection to any political party in Palestine,” the participants added. “We are sailing peacefully, without any weapons. Our message to the world is that we want peace — our journey is nonviolent.”

Asked about the risks their journey could entail, the participants responded, “We believe we will arrive in peace, but there are clear dangers: attack, arrest, the sinking the ship.”

“But the most important thing is that we will get their peacefully,” they stressed. “All other messages have failed.”

“Shadi told me that he wanted to leave, that he wanted to find work,” said Shadi’s mother. “He made his decision — what can I do? May God protect him from danger.”

After Israeli naval forces intercepted the boat, the IDF spokesperson announced that the boat would be towed to a naval base in Ashdod and the passengers returned to Gaza.

The interception of the Cyprus-bound boat comes just as another Freedom Flotilla, which departed the Norwegian port of Bergen on April 30, is on its way to Gaza. It is also nearly eight years to the day since Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, part of the 2010 Gaza flotilla, and killed 10 Turkish activists.

Under the Oslo Accords, which created the system according to which the Israeli military rules Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, Israel agreed to allow Palestinian boats, and in particular fisherman, to operate freely in a zone extending 20 nautical miles off the Gaza coast.

The IDF, however, has not abided by that commitment for the past decade. Israeli authorities first shrunk the zone to 10 nautical miles, then three nautical miles. As part of a cease-fire agreement with Hamas after the 2014 Gaza war, however, Israel agreed to expand the zone to six nautical miles.

The size of the permitted fishing zone changes at the whim of Israeli military commanders and politicians, who have in the past openly discussed how they use it as collective punishment against civilians in response to rocket fire from armed groups. Sometimes Israeli naval forces simply announce via loudspeakers that they are reducing the size of the zone on a given day.

Israel’s decade-old siege on the Gaza Strip, reinforced by Egypt, is enforced through a military blockade on Gaza’s land and sea borders, full control of the Strip’s airspace and the destruction of its only airport. Despite the fact that Israel pulled its troops out of Gaza in 2005 the army still controls the Strip’s currency (the new Israeli shekel), the population registry, large parts of the electricity and water grids, all imports and exports, and decides who may enter and exit through the only regularly open passenger border crossing.

The IDF also controls movement inside the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops maintain a no-go zone several hundred meters from the Gaza-Israel separation barrier — the site of the 45-day-long Gaza Return March protests during which Israeli forces killed over 100 Palestinian demonstrators and wounded tens of thousands with live ammunition.

Video of the flotilla:

July 10, 2018 Palestinian Flotilla Sailing OUT OF GAZA

Boat FROM Gaza July 10, 2018

For second time in 2 months, IDF intercepts Gaza blockade-running boat

Navy arrests 8 passengers, some of them Palestinians injured in recent border clashes with Israel, after vessel left permitted fishing zone, ostensibly en route to Cyprus

The Israeli Navy stopped and seized a fishing boat that attempted to break through the naval blockade around the Gaza Strip, arresting the eight Palestinians on board, some of them people injured in recent border clashes with Israeli troops, the military said.

The vessel’s purported destination was Cyprus, however the boat lacked the equipment necessary to safely reach the island nation, making it more likely that this was a symbolic act of protest.

“The vessel was seized without incident,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

After a search of the vessel, the boat was towed to the Israeli Navy’s base at the Ashdod port.

New ‘freedom flotilla’ to set sail from Gaza to Cyprus

New 'freedom flotilla' to set sail from Gaza to CyprusOpen in fullscreen

The New Arab

New ‘freedom flotilla’ to set sail from Gaza to Cyprus

The boats will carry patients and Gazans injured by Israel [Al-Araby al-Jadeed]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2018

A flotilla of small boats carrying activists, patients, and some Palestinians injured in recent clashes near Gaza’s border with Israel will attempt an arduous journey out of besieged strip.

A new attempt to break Israel’s crippling blockade of Gaza will be launched on Tuesday, a local NGO in the besieged Palestinian enclave has announced.

A flotilla of small boats carrying activists, patients, and some Gazans injured in recent clashes near the border with Israel would attempt the journey from Gaza’s port, the Great Return March National Organising Committee said at a press briefing Monday.

This is the second such attempt from Gaza since late May, when the Israeli navy stopped and seized a similar flotilla protesting its blockade on the strip.

The small flotilla had left a port in the Palestinian enclave with the goal of breaking the decade-long Israeli blockade and aimed to reach Cyprus.

Gaza has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt for over a decade, preventing vital supplies reaching Palestinians there.

Salah Abdul Atti, one of the organisers, called on the UN to protect the flotilla and those on board and pressure Israel to allow it to reach Cyprus.

Abdul Atti also called on international organisations to work for the release of the captain of the first flotilla, Suhail al-Amoudi, who is still being detained by Israel following the interception of the boats.

Explainer: Life in Gaza under Israel’s blockade

The Great Return March National Organising Committee is the group now known for staging the large border protests since late March, which Israel violently attempted to suppress.

Since the protests began on March 30, they have been violently quashed by the Israeli army. At least 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The majority of those killed were non-violent protestors, as well as journalists, bystanders and a nurse. Only a small number were seeking to breach or damage the border fence, although they too were unarmed.

No Israelis have been killed.

The 11-year-long Israeli blockade has long starved the Gaza Strip from receiving much needed humanitarian aid, including food stuffs, medical equipment, and clean water.

Starting in 2007 the blockade limits Palestinians use of their territorial sea to 9 nautical miles (16 kilometres).

This zone is allocated for fishing and other “small scale economic activity”.

However, the Israeli authorities limit these activities as well, often targeting any boats which enter the zone.

Books about the Boats of the Free Gaza Movement and Freedom Flotilla Coalition

Freedom Sailors book

Freedom Sailors

OR Book Going Rouge

Midnight on the Mavi Marmara

Toward Gaza-Live from the Freedom Flotilla

Towards Gaza: Live on the Freedom Flotilla

Drawing a Line in the Sea

Drawing A Line in the Sea: The Gaza Flotilla Incident and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Zionist view)

Ship to Gaza-book from Sweden

Ship to Gaza (Order from Ship to Gaza-Sweden  (

Book Estelle

Estelle (In Norweigian with great photos–order from Ship to Gaza-Norway

Diary from Sweden-Sweden boat to Gaza

Women's Boat to Gaza Photo Album by Malaysians

Women’s Boat to  Gaza (Photo Album from Malaysian campaign)

35 miles-Women's Boat to Gaza book in Malaysian

34 Miles-Women’s Boat to Gaza (in Malaysian)

Articles, Videos

2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla

2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Slow Boat to Gaza .png

Slow Boat to Gaza- 30 Page Photo Essay by Ray McGovern of 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and Audacity of Hope   0811-ray-gazaboat

Greece Arrest Captain of Gaza-Bound US Boat

Watchful Activists Guard Boats Bound for Gaza

Greet Coast Guard Seizes Canadian Ship Bound for Gaza

Other Resources

Legal Cases against Israeli Attacks on Civilian Boats to Gaza

In 2008, human rights defenders began bringing international publicity to the illegal Israeli Blockade of Gaza by attempting to sail unarmed, civilian boats to Gaza.  Since 2008 approximately 31 boats have sailed to generate media coverage to the plight of 1.9 million inhabitants of Gaza living in the small coastal area 25 miles long and 5 miles wide, one of the most densely populated areas in the world.  The United Nations says that because of the Israeli land and sea blockade of Gaza, Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020.

Legal Cases Against Israeli Attacks on Civilian Boats to Break the Illegal Israeli Blockade of Gaza

This is the post excerpt.

Gaza harbor with monument to those killed on the Mavi Marmara

Blockaded Gaza Harbor with Monument to 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the ten killed by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara


Fishing Boats in Blockaded Gaza Harbor.  Israeli commandos attack fishing boats going more than 3 miles from the coast to fish.


Fishing boats are seen at Gaza Seaport in Gaza City

Israeli Blockade of the Tiny Gaza City harbor, the only harbor on the Gaza Coast.

In 2008, human rights defenders began bringing international publicity to the illegal Israeli Blockade of Gaza by attempting to sail unarmed, civilian boats to Gaza.  Since 2008 approximately 31 boats have sailed to generate media coverage to the plight of 1.9 million inhabitants of Gaza living in the small coastal area 25 miles long and 5 miles wide, one of the most densely populated areas in the world.  Israel has attacked Gaza three times in the past 8 years, 2009, 2012 and 2014, killing thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands without homes. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed in 2018 by Israeli snipers and thousands have been wounded during the Great Return March in Gaza each Friday since March 2018.  The United Nations says that because of the Israeli land and sea blockade of Gaza, Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020.

This blog contains information about the legal cases brought against the Israeli government and specific Israeli government officials for the assaults and murders of passengers on unarmed civilian boats that have attempted to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and for the return and/or compensation for the boats that the Israeli government have illegally seized.

The blog also contains a section on the boats and passengers that have sailed to break the blockade beginning with

in August 2008 the Free Gaza Movement boats Liberty and Free Gaza

and the Dignity in October, November and twice in December in 2008 that actually sailed into Gaza;

the Spirit of Humanity in January and July 2009;

the cargo ship Tali from Lebanon in February 2009;

the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla with 7 ships, the Mavi Marmara, the Sfendoni, Challenger 1, cargo ships Free Mediterranean, Dafne Y, Gazze, and Rachel Corrie in May 2010; the Irene Jewish Boat to Gaza in September 2010;

eight boats in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 that were prevented from sailing by the Greek government, the Audacity of Hope, Tahrir, Saoirse, Gernika, Julianno, Stefano Chairini, Louise Michel and Eleftheri Mesogeios ;

Dignité Al Karama in July 2011;

the Tahrir and Saoirse in November 2011;

the Estelle in 2012;

the Marianne, Rachel, Vittorio, Juliano 2 in 2015;

the Women’s Boat to Gaza the Zaytouna-Oliva in September 2016

and the Al Awda and Freedom in July-August 2018, with two other boats, Filestine and Mairead Maguire.

In the summer of 2018, two small boats calling themselves the Palestine Flotilla attempted to sail FROM Gaza to Cyprus taking injured persons for medical treatment.  They were stopped by the IOF. The Al-Hurriyah (Liberty) sailed on May 29 and another boat sailed on July 10.

The 2020 Gaza Freedom Flotilla was postponed due to the COVID pandemic and will sail again in 2022. Working with Miles of Smiles, Gaza Freedom Flotilla coalition members purchased an ambulance for Gaza after the 2021 11 day Israeli attack on Gaza.