A Civil Society Organisation response to the urgent distress calls from the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, who are in the throes of an unrelenting genocidal war waged by the Israeli occupation. More than 20,000 people have been killed, tens of thousands people injured and infrastructure devastated, threatening everyone in Gaza. The collective paralysis of the international community forces us as Civil Society Organisations to act. We are organising advocacy and relief efforts, using peaceful and legal means, focusing on the dispatch of relief aid ships and medical assistance as soon as possible.
We are planning to procure and deploy several ships originating from different ports and sail them to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza that is crucial for the well-being of the Palestinian people and to simultaneously break the illegal blockade of Gaza.
Since October, Israel has killed more than 20,000 Palestinian people and destroyed more than 250,000 residential units, which has displaced more than a million people in and from northern Gaza. The relentless devastation of infrastructure for the local population continues and is being exacerbated by unwavering support for the occupying state from numerous Western countries.
Our aim is to urgently dispatch ships with medical aid, in coordination with international organisations experienced in overseeing relief convoys and humanitarian assistance in compliance with international laws and regulations governing aid delivery in armed conflict zones.
Aid alone will not save Gaza, but right now people need the basic necessities of life, including water, food, shelter and medical care.
Two members of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza and the Mavı Marmara Freedom and Solidarity Associatıon initiated this international campaign. Other campaigns participating are Canadian Boat to Gaza, MyCARE Malaysia, Kia Ora Gaza [Aotearoa/New Zealand], Ship to Gaza Norway, Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa], Rumbo a Gaza [Spain], Ship to Gaza Sweden, US Boats to Gaza, Free Gaza Australia and the Platform of NGOs for Palestine [France].
Our goal is to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza. In line with all of the initiatives that the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) has launched, this mission too is grounded theoretically and practically within the framework of non-violence. All of the participants in the last leg towards Gaza will take part in a non-violence training course to assist them in preparing for the possibility of being attacked, hijacked, and detained. We do not carry any weapons and always choose to counter oppression using non-violent strategies. The only weapons that come onto FFC boats are those carried by coastguards, police and military personnel. For example, on 29 July and 3 August 2018 Israeli troops brought on board significant quantities of weapons when they violently attacked our boats and participants in international waters.
Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip since 1967 and, as the occupying force, it is responsible for the well-being of the population within this territory (see UNGA resolution 64/94). In 2011, five independent UN human rights specialists reiterated that the blockade of Gaza is illegal (How can Israel’s blockade of Gaza be legal?) because of its disproportionate effects on the civilian Palestinian population.
The current blockade has been imposed since 2006 by Israel and Egypt, with support from many international governments. The blockade restricts the movement of people and goods. By applying restrictive measures that affect the population as a whole, it violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment. For more background, see the 2017 Report of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid), this report from the International Criminal Court (see p16 regarding Israel as occupying power), the UN report on the Question of Palestine and this report from Amnesty International about the blockade as collective punishment. Even Israeli NGOs like Gisha point out the legal responsibility of Israel towards the population of Gaza.
We are in the process of acquiring ships to carry humanitarian aid and plan to sail from ports in the Mediterranean Sea as soon as practicable, but in December 2023/January 2024..
The focus of this Flotilla is the delivery of material aid, but amongst the crew we plan to select a small number of individuals from different countries, which could include human rights activists, politicians, journalists, trade union leaders, artists, academics, faith leaders and students. Please direct expressions of interest in sailing on the Flotilla to your nearest participating organization.
There are always risks whenever the illegal actions of the Israeli Occupation Forces are challenged, especially since our governments fail to hold Israel accountable for its violent actions against civilians. However, these risks are minimal compared with those faced every day by Palestinian people in Gaza, who have no choice whether or not they live in an occupied territory that is regularly attacked. Since our missions often face a “media blockade” with a failure to report violence by Israeli forces, you can play an important role as “passengers on land”. This includes acting as “life preservers” for those on board: you can help by pressing local, national and international media to cover our voyage, and demanding that politicians speak out for the safety of our participants and for the rights of Palestinians in Gaza. The more eyes, ears and keyboards follow our mission, the safer our participants will be and the better the outcomes for the Palestinian people of Gaza.
We are relying on support and funding from individuals and groups, collected through participating organisations.
Does International Campaign to Save Gaza support the Boycott
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led, non-violent global movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. We support the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment Sanctions.
While our focus is on opposing the illegal blockade against the Palestinian people of Gaza, we see this in the larger context of supporting the right to freedom of movement for all Palestinians. The Israeli occupation violates daily the human rights of Palestinians to move freely around their country, as well as to leave and return to their country. We also support other broad-based demands for Palestinian rights based on International Law, including:
- Ending the Israeli occupation and colonization of all Palestinian land and dismantling the Apartheid Wall in line with the 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice;
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948.
For information about the devastating effects of the blockade, see information on ‘Life In Gaza‘.
International civil society organisations have been challenging the illegal Israeli land and naval blockade of Gaza in a variety of ways since 2007. While other organisations have importantly focused on challenging the land blockade, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition challenges the Israeli blockade by sea to draw attention to the effects that this has on Palestinian people in Gaza, including Palestinian fishers in Gaza, who are frequently shot at by the Israeli Navy while trying to provide for their families and the general population, and Palestinian people denied their ability to trade and travel via the port of Gaza.
We believe that the refugee crisis stems in part from a lack of political will to solve situations which force people to leave their homes in search of safety. The Palestinian people of Gaza do not even have the option to set sail towards freedom, as the Israeli Occupation Forces blockade their access to the Mediterranean Sea. Let us not forget that more than five million of the world’s refugees are Palestinians, including 70% of Palestinians living in Gaza.
We are increasing our collaboration with rescue organisations that operate in the Mediterranean.