Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Third Freedom Flotilla set to break Gaza blockade

By Zuzana Brezinová - June 25, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Freedom Flotilla] [Gaza Blockade] [Israeli government]

The Knesset House Committee voted to strip Basel Ghattas, a member of the Joint Arab List, of his parliamentary immunity and the adjacent privileges on Tuesday after he announced his participation in the Third Freedom Flotilla, a humanitarian convoy set to sail to the siege-afflicted Gaza Strip later this week. Israeli MKs said that Ghattas “misused his parliamentary immunity” in support of terrorism, and labelled his decision, “an activity in the service of the enemy.”


“MKs who have trouble obeying the law should return their Israeli ID cards and move to the Palestinian Authority. The flotilla goes against the State of Israel. It is an anti-Semitic act. If you don’t like it here, you are welcome to leave,” said Oren Hazan, member of the Likud Party, the Times of Israel reported.


“This is another racist trend from the Israeli government. Israel attempts to silence any voice of support standing by the Palestinian people but this will always fail,” Dr. Ramy, media coordinator for the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), a key partner of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, told Palestine Monitor.


Ghattas, who has already left for Greece, where the flotilla is finalising preparations before setting off on Friday, told the Middle East Eye, “This is a ritual by the Israelis and by their ministers. They cannot understand what democracy is. The issue should not be about my participation in the flotilla, it must be about the cruel conditions that Palestinians have been subjected to.”


With Gaza’s blockade entering its ninth year, and the large-scale damage entrained by the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip last summer, over 70 percent of the local population now depends on humanitarian aid and lacks basic sanitary supplies.  


“This civil flotilla is a peaceful one whose aim is to end the siege by way of turning international attention to the situation of 1.8 million Palestinians, living in disgraceful, prison-like conditions,” Ghattas wrote in his open letter addressed to Netanyahu.


The Third Freedom Flotilla with several members of the European Parliament and the former Tunisian president, Moncef Marzouki on board, carries medical supplies and solar panels to produce 'clean energy’ after a majority of Gaza’s infrastructure was damaged in Israeli bombings.


However, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon, said that, “if the intention was to provide welfare to Gazans, the aid would be sent through Israel.” The Israeli Government fears that the Freedom Flotilla will be used as a means to smuggle weapons and other military material into Gaza, Palestine News Network reported.


Members of the Joint Arab List expressed their full support for Ghattas’ move saying, “It is our duty to support the struggle to end the blockade and to enable reconstruction of Gaza after the immense destruction wrought by Israeli airstrikes. The Freedom Flotilla proves that the international community supports the rights of the Palestinians to live honourably, in liberty and peace.”


Meanwhile, the Israeli government has threatened to intercept the Flotilla before it reaches Gaza, which raises fears of a historical 'déjà vu’ as the first Freedom Flotilla brining aid to Gaza fell under heavy IDF attack, which resulted in death of nine activists sailing on the Turkish 'Mavi Marmara’ vessel.


In response to Israeli threats, Ghattas requested that the Israeli security forces stay away. “Any form of takeover to prevent this will only involve Israel in yet another difficult international scandal,” wrote Ghattas in his open letter.


Haneen Zoabi from the Join Arab List, who participated in the First Freedom Flotilla, and faced same parliamentary sanctions as Ghattas, told the Times of Israel that, “an entire generation hasn’t left [Gaza] and doesn’t know anything else. That’s what we call a war crime.”



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