UN experts demand safe passage for Freedom Flotilla’s humanitarian mission to Gaza

GENEVA (26 April 2024) – UN experts today demanded safe passage for the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, whose ships departing Türkiye will be carrying 5,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid and hundreds of international humanitarian observers to the besieged Gaza Strip. “As the Freedom Flotilla approaches Palestinian territorial waters off Gaza, Israel must adhere to international law, including recent orders from the International Court of Justice to ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian aid,” the experts said.

They issued the following statement:

“Two hundred days into Israel’s siege and genocidal violence, including an unprecedented starvation campaign against the Palestinian people in Gaza, the situation continues to deteriorate. After a 17-year blockade against Gaza, Israel has now created a famine by cutting off the regular supply of water, food, and critical goods into Gaza, destroying livelihoods, the food system, and civilian infrastructure. Failing to comply with its humanitarian obligations as the occupying power, Israel is also restricting humanitarian aid, intentionally bombarding humanitarian convoys, and targeting both aid workers and civilians seeking aid.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is a civilian peaceful initiative whose ships departing Türkiye will be carrying 5,500 tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds of international humanitarian observers to the besieged Gaza Strip. Comprising a diverse coalition of human rights activists, including lawyers, doctors, nurses, journalists, parliamentarians, and politicians, the convoy aims to deliver life-saving aid directly to the besieged people of Gaza, legitimately challenging Israel’s control over the entry of humanitarian assistance. Besieging a civilian population is unlawful.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s demands include an immediate, unconditional, and permanent ceasefire, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and an end to the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. The convoy is scheduled for imminent departure.

The Flotilla is a material manifestation of international support for the ongoing Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination, and the internationally recognized right to receive humanitarian aid without interference or hindrance. Support for the Palestinian people’s human rights is acute under the current conditions of genocide, domicide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. We are witnessing purposefully induced famine amid the wholesale destruction of homes and hospitals. Disease is quickly spreading because millions of people were forced out of their homes, targeted, maimed, or wounded, and left unable to be treated in highly unsanitary conditions, and are now living in makeshift and overcrowded shelters. The level of trauma and distress will impact Palestinians for generations.

Countries are not complying with their obligations to end Israel’s genocide and starvation in Gaza. Many countries continue supporting Israel with weapons, funds, and political support: this may make them complicit in Israel’s genocide and starvation. This is why civilians, like the Freedom Flotilla participants, are increasingly showing their solidarity by protecting and fulfilling Palestinian human rights through direct action. They express the will of a global movement, especially sustained by youth worldwide, to bring the horrors in Gaza to an end – in the interest of both Palestinians and Israelis.

The Freedom Flotilla has the right of free passage in international waters and Israel must not interfere with its freedom of navigation, long recognized under international law. As the Freedom Flotilla approaches Palestinian territorial waters off Gaza, Israel needs to adhere to international law, including recent orders from the International Court of Justice to ensure unimpeded access to humanitarian aid.

In 2010, Israel intercepted and attacked the Freedom Flotilla’s civilian ships in international waters, killing 10 passengers and wounding many others. At the time, the Freedom Flotilla had attempted to break the Israeli blockade by delivering humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

We are especially concerned for the safety of the participants of the Freedom Flotilla in light of Israel’s repeated targeted attacks against UN and civilian humanitarian missions. Israel should remember that the world is closely watching and refrain from any hostility against the participants of the flotilla.”

ENDS

*The experts: The experts: Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; and Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2024/04/un-experts-demand-safe-passage-freedom-flotillas-humanitarian-mission-gaza

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