Representatives from the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) met in Istanbul at the beginning of November and agreed to increase their efforts to challenge the inhumane and illegal blockade of Gaza, with more urgency than ever. “We will send as many boats as we can with whatever humanitarian medical aid we can gather, as early as possible in 2024.” explains Torstein Dahle of Ship to Gaza Norway. “We know the needs of the Palestinians in Gaza are enormous, and the challenge to rebuild destroyed homes and infrastructure will also be enormous.”
While the total number of boats and the amounts of aid are not yet confirmed, the FFC aims to sail between two and five vessels of different types. December had been projected for a possible departure, but the renewed bombing attacks by Israel along with other factors have pushed the departure date back.
“We call on the Israeli Occupation Forces and their U.S. sponsors to guarantee safe passage through international waters to internationally recognized Palestinian waters off Gaza,” adds Col. Ann Wright of US Boats to Gaza. “We have no intention of putting our people or the humanitarian cargo in harm’s way. We will sail as soon as it is safe to do so.”
In response to unfounded rumours that have been reported (for example in the Palestinian Chronicle among other media), we clarify that there will not be “1000 boats” with 4500 people from 40 countries, including 12 from Turkey. “The Freedom Flotilla Coalition and the Mavi Marmara Association are not working with Volkan Okçu, as reported on the Turkish news site, Haber7.” states MMA representative, Ismail Behesti. “The FFC has been sailing missions against the blockade of Gaza since 2010, and we have never made such exagerrated claims, which can only harm the credibility of this serious undertaking.”
The FFC boat Handala, which visited northern European ports in 2023, will continue in 2024 on its voyage to challenge the blockade. Updates from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition can be found here, while the new initiative that is drawing in participation from even more countries can be found at the Save Gaza website.