Since the launch of the International Campaign to Save Gaza at the end of November 2023, the campaign, in cooperation with its partners from civil society organisations in many countries, has made unremitting efforts that resulted in the launch of four national campaigns as part of the International Campaign to Save Gaza project, which are the Lebanese Popular Campaign, the Libyan Campaign, and the Algerian Initiative for Supporting Palestine and Saving Gaza, as well as the campaign of relief institutions in Türkiye. These organisations have begun the process of operating aid ships for the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, one of which will depart from the port of Misrata in Libya and the second from the port of Sidon in Lebanon. A group of Turkish and Palestinian charitable organisations in Istanbul have also started the procedures for sailing a cargo ship from one of the Turkish ports. As for Algeria, a national Initiative was formed to Support Palestine and Save Gaza, which pledged to make a significant contribution to the costs of operating the ships. Several businessmen and Arab community leaders in Türkiye, most notably the Yemeni community in Istanbul, will bear the costs of an entire ship of aid for the Palestinians of Gaza. Local operational committees were formed from a number of charitable and solidarity organisations in those countries, which in turn began campaigns to collect aid material to be loaded into these ships. They are expected to complete this phase of their mission within the next few weeks. The international Save Gaza campaign will provide all necessary support to these local committees, which will be responsible for following up the implementation and success of their projects.
We are aware that these ships, like other aid ships and trucks, are encountering the obstacles and challenges imposed by the occupying State in terms of the number of trucks allowed and the types of aid, as well as the procedures for the operation of ships and arrangements to allow them to reach Al-Arish and then the Rafah crossing to be delivered to the Palestinians of Gaza. However, we hope that these obstacles and difficulties will be overcome, so that the aid reaches the Palestinians of Gaza as quickly as possible.
It is regrettable to note that the procedures on the Egyptian side seem complicated and do not contribute to facilitating the delivery of relief aid to Gaza. Therefore, we call on the Egyptian government to carry out its moral, national and humanitarian duty, and to implement the decisions of the Arab Summit and the decisions of the international community, which call for increasing and facilitating the entry of aid into Gaza.
Media reports and eyewitnesses confirm that thousands of trucks filled with aid are waiting in Al-Arish and Rafah for permission to enter Gaza. Regardless of the justifications given by the Egyptian official authorities, and their holding the Israeli side and its security measures responsible, the result is the same, which is disrupting the delivery of humanitarian relief aid, and contributing to the policy of starvation of the Palestinians of Gaza, who are subjected to crimes of murder, genocide and forced displacement.
In this context, the International Save Gaza Campaign confirms that it is aware of the magnitude of the challenges, and therefore it was clear to us from the beginning that the idea of aid ships to Gaza, which was approved by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition and in partnership with the Turkish Mavi Marmara Association, and the International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza, is an exceptional project for this coalition and an interim goal imposed by the exceptional circumstances and the criminal war waged by the Israeli state on the Gaza Strip. The focus on this line of work, represented by relief ships and emergency humanitarian aid, came as a response to urgent distress calls from official Palestinian popular organisations. But this does not mean in any way abandoning the primary goal of the Freedom Flotilla coalition, which is to make every effort to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, because the Blockade and occupation are the main problems that caused all this suffering to the Palestinian people.
In order to activate the efforts to break the blockade on Gaza, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has begun, since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, to develop plans in order to operate ships to break the blockade and sail towards Gaza. The first phase of the coalition’s plan was the operation of the Norwegian ship “Handala”, which visited many European ports in the summer of 2023 in order to raise awareness and refocus attention on the blockade and its catastrophic effects on the Palestinians of Gaza.
In the second phase,scheduled to begin this February, the necessary preparations will begin for sailing ships to break the blockade, which includes the purchase of ships to carry activists, and public figures from the world to the coast of Gaza. This action sends a clear message to the world that it is time to end this unjust and illegal blockade, and that the free world must not remain idle in the face of this 17-year crime, which deprives Palestinians of the basics of life and destroys all aspects of life in Palestinian society, leading to the October 7 explosion, and the genocidal war that has already claimed the lives of about 30,000 martyrs and left more than 60,000 wounded.
In order to launch the second phase of the plan to break the blockade, the local committees in Libya, Lebanon and Türkiye will follow procedures required in order operate the aid ships in coordination with the official authorities in those countries, and in parallel, the FFC logistics and technical committees will start the necessary preparations to sail towards Gaza and organise an international maritime movement to pressure the Israeli occupation state to end the blockade, which has become a priority in light of the crimes of genocide against the Palestinian people at the hands of war criminals from the leaders of the Israeli army. To achieve this, the Coalition calls on the world’s activists and solidarity organizations to unite efforts and work together to challenge and break the blockade in all possible ways.
Our Coalition wholeheartedly supports South Africa’s application at the International Court of Justice to apply the Genocide Convention to stop the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, as well as other world court cases brought by Indonesia, Chile and Mexico to apply remedies under international law to address ongoing human rights violations by Israel.
While we welcome these diplomatic actions by some governments who take their legal responsibilities seriously, we know that in most of our countries, our governments fail to lead and people’s organizations need to lead the way.
Our nonviolent direct actions, like all the Freedom Flotilla Coalition missions over the last 14 years, are in direct solidarity with Palestinians civil society in Gaza.
Our Coalition continues to sail for the freedoms of all Palestinians.