Freedom Flotilla Frequently Asked Questions

(Information as of 2024.07.24)

What is the Freedom Flotilla Coalition?

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is composed of civil society organisations and initiatives from many countries. We have been challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza since 2010, joining and building on the efforts of the Free Gaza Movement, which began sailing boats to Gaza in 2008, in an attempt to break Israel’s deadly blockade. We are committed to continue the struggle until the blockade is unconditionally lifted and Palestinian people everywhere achieve their full rights, including the right to freedom of movement.

Where are the participating campaigns located?

Participating Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) campaigns include: Canadian Boat to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla Italia, MyCARE Malaysia, Kia Ora Gaza [New Zealand / Aotearoa], Ship to Gaza Norway, Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa], Rumbo a Gaza [Spain], Ship to Gaza Sweden, Mavi Marmara Freedom and Solidarity Association [Turkey], US Boats to Gaza, and the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza. Our partner organisations include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign [Britain], Free Gaza Australia and the Platform of NGOs for Palestine [France]. New campaigns in Brazil and Ireland have recently joined the FFC.

What Freedom Flotillas are heading to Gaza in 2024?

We were planning to sail in April 2024 with multiple vessels, carrying over 5,000 tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds of international human rights observers to challenge the ongoing illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip (see more information in our Break the Siege Fact Sheet). This Flotilla was to be an emergency mission. However, different political challenges have prevented us from sailing earlier. We still hope to relaunch as soon as possible.

On our mission For the Children of Gaza, our boat Handala has been visiting various European ports since 2023, and again this year beginning 1 May, continues on its way towards Gaza now. In its many port visits, Handala raises awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza. It also aims to enlist support from people along the way who can put pressure on their governments to demand a permanent ceasefire and help ensure self-determination and the fulfilment of all human rights for Palestinian people. The horrible impact of the 17 year blockade, and Israel’s current impunity are only possible because our governments are complicit in this genocide. We sail with a double message: solidarity with Palestine and a call for direct action everywhere to empower civil society in the face of government failure to enforce international law.

How many vessels are involved?

At least Handala and any other vessel that we can sail with it. Watch this page for updates.

How many people will be on board?

Several hundred confirmed participants from dozens of countries were signed up and ready to sail on our April Break the Siege mission: some of these have indicated they are available for our upcoming mission as well. Smaller numbers will be on board Handala. Participants observe and assist in the delivery of the aid and its distribution.

Which countries are participating?

For Break the Siege combined with the Handala we expect participants from countries including (alphabetically): Algeria, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Norway, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Türkiye, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Why are so many countries represented?

This is a civil society mission that relies on media coverage and political pressure on countries across the world to exert their influence on Israel to stop its slaughter of Palestinians, mostly women and children. Representation from many countries highlights the solidarity across the world and the need for all countries to insist on Israel ceasing fire and ending its genocide.

Will the flotilla allow Israeli officials to inspect the ship contents, including the humanitarian aid?

No. We will have third parties inspect the ships and participants to ensure no weapons are brought on board. The reason for the current starvation and lack of medical supplies in Gaza is because the international community allows Israel to impede and limit humanitarian aid from entering Gaza under the excuse of inspection. Israel has banned entry of humanitarian aid it deems “dual use” to the point of disallowing water purification tablets, anaesthetics, nail clippers, obstetrical surgery kits and much more. It continues to prevent thousands of aid trucks from entering Gaza.
We refuse to allow the government that has caused the devastating famine and continues a genocide to impose similar restrictions on this aid.

What is the departure point?

Ships will depart from ports in the Mediterranean.

What is your destination?

Gaza.

What if Israeli forces do not allow access to Gaza?

They will be acting in defiance of the International Court of Justice which on 28 March required Israeli forces to stop “preventing, through any action, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance”.
To reiterate, the purpose of this mission is to break an illegal blockade and bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. If Israel prevents us from reaching Gaza, then that will delay aid getting to Gaza. Our governments’ complicity allows Israel to slow, impede or even prevent aid from getting to Palestinians in Gaza as it has done with aid shipments, even from its allies, via Israeli and Egyptian crossing points.

What is your departure date?

We are planning to leave very soon. Please monitor our social media channels to stay up to date.

Are these missions risky?

The biggest risk is that our governments don’t act to protect us and the aid. This question is better directed to President Biden and other heads of state. What are they doing to prevent Israel from killing and harming civilians, both Palestinians and internationals like us? Facing the Israeli military is risky because our governments continue to provide political impunity for Israel and are complicit with genocide. The danger of doing nothing is greater than the danger of acting for humanity. If something happens to us then Israel and its allied governments across the world will be to blame, especially those that claim to stand for human rights and international law, while enabling a genocide (either by providing the weapons and diplomatic support, or by failing to sanction Israel).

The risks we take are minimal compared with those faced every day by Palestinian people in Gaza, who have no choice about living in an occupied territory that is regularly attacked.

Why are we sailing ‘For the Children of Gaza’? Why is Break the Siege also important?

Since over half of the Palestinians in Gaza are children, it is important to highlight to the world that the blockade of Gaza affects them most. Palestinian children living in Gaza, as well as the West Bank and diaspora, have been denied basic human rights for decades. Those violations of rights, from freedom of movement to the right to return, have been exacerbated for Palestinians in Gaza since 2006 because of the near-hermetic closure that Israel imposed on Gaza (i.e. the illegal blockade) on top of its decades of belligerent, violent occupation

Our goal for the For the Children of Gaza mission is to maximise the outreach to communities that can help us pressure our complicit governments to end the blockade. This includes ports in European countries that financially and politically support Israel while not holding it accountable for its human rights violations.

As the result of a deliberate policy decision by the Israeli government to starve the Palestinian people, the situation in Gaza is dire, with widespread famine reportedly taking hold in northern Gaza, and catastrophic hunger present throughout the Gaza Strip. Time is critical as experts predict that hunger and disease could claim more lives than have been killed in the bombing: this is why it is crucial to Break the Siege.

Is the Freedom Flotilla a non-violent initiative?

Our goal is to peacefully end the illegal Israeli blockade. Every initiative that the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has launched has been grounded in the framework of non-violent direct action. All the participants sailing towards Gaza take part in non-violence training to prepare them for possible attack, hijacking, and imprisonment. We always choose to counter oppression using non-violent strategies and we do not carry any weapons. The only weapons that come onto our boats are those carried by coastguard, police and military personnel. For example, on 29 July and 3 August 2018, when Israeli troops violently attacked our boats and participants in international waters, they brought on board significant quantities of weapons.

Why is one of the boats called Handala?

Handala is a Palestinian refugee child cartoon character, widely recognised throughout Palestine, who represents Palestinian people, especially children.  Handala remains a potent symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self-determination. Since more than two thirds of the people in Gaza are Palestinian refugees and over half of Gaza’s inhabitants are children, Handala is an appropriate name for the Freedom Flotilla For the Children of Gaza mission.

Who will be on board?

We select participants from different countries and welcome representatives from civil society, including politicians, activists, journalists, trade union leaders, artists, academics, faith leaders and students for different legs of the journey of Handala and of course for Break the Siege we had thousands of people apply. Some  biographies of participants are posted on our website under Participants. See previous participants from 2018 and from the 2016 Women’s Boat to Gaza.

Do the Flotilla boats take aid to Gaza?

Our Break the Siege Flotilla will take desperately needed aid to Gaza. This is an emergency mission as the situation in Gaza is dire.

Getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza is urgent, but it is not sufficient. We must end Israel’s unlawful, deadly blockade as well as Israel’s overall control of Gaza. Allowing Israel to control what and how much humanitarian aid can get to Palestinians in Gaza is like letting the fox manage the henhouse.  And yet, this is what the international community of states is allowing by refusing to sanction Israel and defy its genocidal policies in order to ensure that enough aid reaches the trapped, beleaguered and bombarded civilian population.

For the Children of Gaza  is a solidarity mission, not an aid mission. Most Palestinians in Gaza are dependent on aid because of political decisions by our governments that are complicit with the blockade. While it is vital that organisations like the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) are allowed to deliver aid to Gaza, this is not the role of an activist coalition like ours: our goal is to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza, not make it slightly more tolerable. However, it seems appropriate to bring some medical supplies and so we will be guided by requests from our partners in Gaza. Of course, we know that we cannot meet the huge and ongoing medical needs in Gaza today. The only sustainable way to ensure that Palestinian people in Gaza receive the medical treatment they deserve is to end the blockade, and the illegal occupation permanently and unconditionally. When Palestinians achieve full freedom and equality, they will no longer need international aid.

Other than these supplies, the Flotilla boat will only be transporting the participants (including media) along with the hopes of an ever-growing international community to end the blockade and the illegal occupation. We hope that by reaching the shores of Gaza, this voyage will open the channels for others to travel to Palestine and more importantly, for the Palestinian people to use their own territorial waters for fishing, other maritime resources, travel, exports and imports. While our most important cargo is always human solidarity, we plan to give our boat to fishers’ organisations in the local community who have been our partners since our previous Solidarity with Gaza Fishers campaign.

Does the Freedom Flotilla Coalition support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement?

Yes. 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. Freedom Flotilla Coalition partners support the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment Sanctions. Please go to individual partner pages for information and activities in your area or find a BDS campaign near you.

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. We support these broad-based demands for Palestinian rights based on International Law, including:

  1. Ending the illegal Israeli occupation and colonisation of all Palestinian land and dismantling the Apartheid Wall in line with the 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UNGA Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948.

How does this Freedom Flotilla mission relate to the current refugee crisis and the many people travelling across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe?

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.

How can I support the campaign?

There are many ways – click here for details.
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.
Please share our messages and information, including visuals about events, participants and visitors along the way which is recorded on this website, as well as on our social media sites, Facebook, X/Twitter, Telegram, TikTok, LinkedIn and Instagram.