A year after the Freedom Flotilla to the Gaza Strip ended in violence, with nine Turkish citizens dead after a confrontation with Israeli forces, a new flotilla is preparing to set sail. Hundreds of activists are set to board 10 Gaza-bound ships, including two cargo vessels carrying aid. This time, a Canadian vessel will be joining them.
The Tahrir – Arabic for “liberation” – is currently docked at a secret port in the Mediterranean. In the coming days, 32 Canadians, 20 international activists and a handful of journalists will attempt break the four-year Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel argues the blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from filtering into the hands of Hamas militants inside the Palestinian territory. The United Nations and activists view the blockade as a human-rights violation, choking Gaza’s struggling economy.
After last year’s bloody confrontation on the high seas, Israel eased restrictions of cargo crossing into Gaza by land, and this month Egypt reopened its crossing to Gaza through Rafa. Still, the activists on the flotilla say those measures are not enough. Some say they are willing to die in an effort to challenge the blockade.