We are a human rights group that, since August 2008, has sailed ten times to Gaza to break Israel's illegal stranglehold on1.6 million Palestinian civilians. We entered Gaza successfully five times in 2008; however, we have been violently intercepted on four voyages, including Israel's MAY 31, 2010 lethal attack on our Freedom Flotilla when nine of our colleagues were killed and many more injured by Israeli commandos. On the tenth voyage in July 2011, Greece prevented us from leaving, as Israel and the U.S. outsourced Israel's occupation of Gaza to Greece. (See also www.witnessgaza.com)
We sail as an expression of citizen nonviolent, direct action, confronting Israel's ongoing abuses of Palestinian human and political rights and will continue to challenge Israel's illegal siege on Gaza by participating and supporting other initiatives to break the blockade of Gaza by sea.
29 April 2014
Posted in Press releases
At Gaza time on , the night guard on board Gaza's Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked.
The guard left, but when nothing happened, he returned after 5 minutes. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat causing extensive damage.
The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to hospital for tests.
Mahfouz Kabariti, Gaza’s Ark Project Manager, says: “The extent and nature of the damage are currently being investigated. We will provide an update when available.”
"Freedom Flotilla boats have been sabotaged before. This attack comes as we were almost ready to sail. You can sink a boat but you can't sink a movement," concludes Ehab Lotayef, another member of the Steering Committee.
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17 March 2014
Posted in News
On March 7, 2014, the Turkish NGO, Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) joined the referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting the ICC Prosecutor initiate an investigation into the crimes committed by Israeli commandos and officials into Israel's raid on Freedom Flotilla I bound for Gaza.
Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were murdered on the Mavi Marmara, some of them assassinated at close range. Several other pro-Palestinian human rights defenders/passengers were also wounded when Israeli commandos stormed all six boats in the early morning on May 31, 2010.
Two important proceedings are taking place in Istanbul, 1.a criminal proceeding on March 27 against four Israeli officials (in absentia) who ordered the attack on the Flotilla. Free Gaza board members, Audrey Bomse and Greta Berlin, along with several FG passengers, will attend that proceeding, and 2.a legal conference on the search for justice in both international and domestic forums on March 25.
Audrey Bomse, attorney for Free Gaza, stated, “These are two very important cases challenging the impunity with which Israel has been able to break international law and commit crimes against humanity and war crimes. We want to do all we can, both from a legal and advocacy standpoint, to try to end this impunity."
The Mavi Marmara was flagged and registered in Comoros, an archipelago off the African coast near Madagascar. They can take the case to the ICC, since the country is a signatory to the Rome Statute[s] that created the Court.
in addition to the Comoros filing, individual victim applications requesting participation in the proceedings have been sent to the ICC from passengers on the flotilla, as well as an organizational application from the Free Gaza movement, whose boats were attacked three prior times; in December 2008, January 2009 and July 2009, establishing a pattern of attacks prior to the flotilla.
Joe Meadors, one of the survivors of the 1967 Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty states, “I was on board one of the boats attacked by Israeli commandoes that morning. Attending the Mavi Marmara hearings is my way of honoring those killed and wounded on Freedom Flotilla I. That is the same honor that has been denied my shipmates for 46 years.”
David Schermerhorn, a crewmember on Challenger 1, the Free Gaza boat attacked that morning, adds, “The Turkish Criminal Court shines a bright light on the responsibility of the Israeli commanders for ordering the attack on the Freedom Flotilla. Without such an action, Israeli leaders will continue their illegal and immoral policies. It is time for accountability, and the Turkish Court has taken the opportunity to bring attention to the continuing violations of human rights.”
To follow the proceedings on March 25 and March 27, join our TWITTER page at https://twitter.com/freegazaorg and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeGazaBreakTheSiege/. We will be reporting live during those two days.
31 May 2013
Posted in News
Freedom Sailors is the story about how 44 members of civil society bought two decrepit boats and sailed them to Gaza in August, 2008. It is the story of courage, determination and fortitude, as the passengers faced threats from Israel, lack of money and seasickness. Readers have told us they cannot put the book down once they start reading it, reading like an adventure story told by 24 of the passengers on board or Palestinians patiently waiting for them to sail into the port.
The book has been endorsed by Ramzy Baroud, Nobel Peace laureate, Mairead Maguire, Baroness jenny Tonge, Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker, plus others who have found the book inspiring. Col Ann Wright, a board member of Free Gaza has written the forward.
Customers who have purchased the book through Amazon.com have agreed that it is a story that must be told and read. http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-
What you can do
1. Support the ongoing work of Free Gaza by buying the book through www.FreedomSailors.com, where you can purchase through Amazon, Kindle or PayPal. The editors keep no royalties, all money goes to the Gaza Community Mental Health Clinic, work on Gaza's Ark or other Free Gaza projects.
2. Buy copies for your local libraries and university libraries and donate them. Ask your bookstore to carry the book, since it is self-published.
3. Write a review on Amazon once you have purchased and read the book.
4. Invite the editors to a group event in your locality, where we will talk about the book and sign copies. You can see one of the events here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
5. You can send a $20.00 check to Freedom Sailors, P.O. Box 480785, Los Angeles, CA 90048, and we will send you an autographed copy of the book.
There would have been no Gaza Freedom March, Viva Palestina, Global March to Jerusalem, Freedom Flotillas or the half dozen other initiatives that have been formed to put the story of the Palestinians of Gaza on the front page if our intrepid passengers on those two derelict boats had not successfully entered Gaza almost five years ago.
Read about it. Help us raise money for Gaza'a Ark. If you donate $25.00 or more through our DONATE button, we will send you a signed copy of the book. You won't be disappointed
20 May 2013
Posted in News
May 20, 2013
Three years ago, the Free Gaza movement was wrapping up final preparations for a flotilla of eight ships to head out to Gaza, determined to break Israel’s illegal siege on 1.5 million Palestinians shut into an open-air prison. Most of us were already in Cyprus or Turkey or Greece, as we were the primary organizers, having already sent eight voyages, five of them successful in 2008.
Why a flotilla of boats?
During Israel’s horrific massacres against the people of Gaza (called Operation Cast Lead) in December 2008/January, 2009, our boat, the DIGNITY, had been rammed off the coast of Lebanon as we were taking medical personnel into Gaza. The boat later sank in a storm off the coast of Cyprus.
Then, in July 2009, Israel brutally attacked the “Spirit of Humanity,” even though Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, and former Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney were on board. The Israeli government stole the boat, threw passengers into Israeli prison and, laughably, deported them eight days later, because “passengers had illegally entered Israel.” It was the first time the Israeli commandoes had actually boarded one of the boats as opposed to ramming them or trying to sink them. http://www.ricenpeas.com/2009/July/cynthia_mckinney_intvw.html
We realized a new approach would have to be designed, one that would include more vessels, more passengers and more media exposure to the brutal closure of Gaza. Sailing one boat at a time was not going to get the message out to the world that Israel was blockading the people of Gaza and committing crimes against humanity.
It took Free Gaza a year to organize. We traveled to Sweden, Norway, France, Turkey, Greece, many Middle Eastern countries, Tunisia, Spain, Malaysia, the UK, the US and Germany. We helped Palestinian support groups raise money and send out the message that the next voyage would have to be organized with worldwide support. We succeeded beyond our wildest imagination, as organizations and individuals got on board the mission, raised money from people around the world, and bought the boats… eight in all, from the boats purchased by the Turkish charity, IHH, to the boats ready to go from Greece, Sweden, Ireland, Malaysia and the U.S.
Our own boats, Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 plus the cargo ship, the Rachel Corrie, were on their way to the meting place off the coast of Cyprus. The Rachel Corrie, bought with money from a charity in Malaysia, http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/05/18/gaza-fever/ had finally left Ireland, its propeller pin suspiciously dropping out just days before leaving, causing the ship to be delayed for days. Had the final inspection not caught the problem, the propeller would have flown off, damaging the boat and putting the passengers and cargo at risk. The Rachel Corrie would not make it in time to join the flotilla but would try to get into Gaza five days later, only to be boarded by Israeli commandos, the passengers brutalized and left in the sun, then thrown into prison.