#FreedomFlotilla III: 47 Participants on Four Boats Sailing Now | #NextPortGaza

Freedom Flotilla III, consisting of four boats, the converted fishing trawler \”Marianne of Gothenburg\” and the supporting sailing vessels “Rachel”, “Vittorio” and “Juliano II”, carrying 47 people from 17 countries, has been sailing since Saturday morning (Gaza time) to challenge the blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Our primary goal is to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza and to call on opening the port of Gaza, the port of Palestine to the world.

Three sailing vessels are accompanying the Marianne, her freedom sailors and cargo on her way to Gaza. Their names (Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II) were given in memory of peace activists Rachel Corrie, Vittorio Arrigoni and Juliano Mer-Khamis, while Juliano II also recalls the Juliano, another boat that was about to leave port but had to stay, due to technical reasons. It is not yet clear whether this boat has been sabotaged, as happened in 2011, and this suspicious case is still under investigation.

While the Flotilla bears much-needed aid, our main cargo is, as always, human solidarity and non-violent direct action for the respect of human rights.

Since Saturday, the Marianne has been under surveillance by what crew described as military vessels and reconnaissance airplanes, without changing direction or plans. Currently the Marianne is approximately 170 nautical miles from the port of Gaza and could reach its destination within one to two days.

From the beginning of this campaign, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been constantly evaluating the prospects for small sailing vessels like Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II to reach their destination or to return to their ports of origin. In order to increase the international presence in this Flotilla we decided to also have boats that would have a different strategy and final destination. The participants on these sailing boats bear witness to the Flotilla and help focus the world\’s attention not only on Israeli state piracy against civil society activism, but also to the more than eight years of suffering and arrested development in blockaded Gaza. See ff3.freedomflotilla.org  for updates on boats\’ positions and itineraries.

During recent days, political support for our challenge to the blockade has been building in Israel and throughout the world. The Flotilla has for years continuously put pressure on this illegal  and inhuman blockade. We are renewing our strategies while staying true to our history of sailing to restore international law in the eastern Mediterranean. More international figures are standing by, prepared to participate in Freedom Flotilla III. By land and by sea, and with one common goal, we will continue until Israel’s illegal blockade is lifted, Egypt stops the arbitrary closures of the Rafah crossing, and Gaza’s port is fully open for both people and products

The 47 participants on board at this time include:  [Name (Country / info)]

MARIANNE AV GÖTEBORG (Swedish flag, 18 people)            
Dror Feiler (Sweden / Musician & composer)
Bassel Ghattas (Israel / Member of Israeli Knesset, Palestinian politician)
Dr. Moncef Marzuki (Tunisia / Human Rights activist, Ex-President of Tunisia)
Ana Miranda (Spain / Member of the European Parliament (BNG))
Nadya Kevorkova (Russia / Journalist)
Kajsa Ekis Ekman (Sweden / Journalist, Author)
Robert Lovelace (Canada / University Professor & retired Algonquin Chief)
Joel Opperdoes (Sweden / Crew)
Gustave Bergstrom (Sweden)
Herman Reksten (Norway)
Kevin Neish (Canada)
Jonas Karlin (Sweden)
Charlie Andreasson (Sweden)
Ammar Al-Hamdan (Norway / Aljazeera Arabic)
Mohammed El Bakkali (Morroco / Aljazeera Arabic)
Ohad Hemo (Israel / Channel 2  Israeli TV)
Ruwani Perera (New Zealand / MaoriTV)
Jacob Bryant (New Zealand / MaoriTV)

RACHEL (Greek flag, 8 people)
Ehab Lotayef (Canada)
Christian Martel (Canada / Retired Québec trade-unionist)
Anouar Gharbi (Tunisia / Founding member of the ECESG)
Yannis Vaitsis (Greece / Doctor)
[K] (Greece / Crew)
[X] (Greece / Crew
Marietta Simegiatou (Greece)
Aissa Boukanoun (France / Journalist, Euronews Arabic)

VITTORIO (Greek flag, 9 people)
Ann Wright (USA / retired U.S. Army colonel & former State Dept. Official)
Nasser Hamdaduche (Algeria / MP)
[D] (Greece / Crew)
[L] (Greece / Doctor)
Gerd von der Lippe (Norway / Professor in Sports Sociology & Author)
[N] (Greece / Crew)
Wellu Koivisto (Finland)
Achilleas Karaklis (Greece)
Abdel Lateef Belkaim (Algeria / Shourouk TV)

JULIANO II (Greek flag) 12 people
Martin Lejeune (Germany / Freelance journalist)
Zohar Chamberlain (Israel / Rumbo a Gaza)
[M] (Greece / Crew)
Claudio Tamagnini (Italy / International Solidarity Movement)
Anas Nairoukh (Jordan)
Lennart Berggren (Sweden / Freelance journalist)
Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi (Morocco / MP, ruling party)
Odysseas Voudouris (Greece / Surgeon, ex president of MSF-Greece, ex MP)
Iasonas Voudouris (Greece)
[N] (Greece / Crew)
[M] (Greece / Crew)
Tayfun Jalci (Turkey / Anadolu news agency)

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