Freedom Flotilla Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for FAQs on the current mission?  Refer to the Break the Siege Fact Sheet.

What is the Freedom Flotilla Coalition?

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is composed of civil society organizations and initiatives from many countries. We have been challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza since 2011 and 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?

What Freedom Flotillas are heading to Gaza in 2024?

We are sending two Flotillas to Gaza this year. The first will sail in April 2024 with multiple vessels, carrying 5000 tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds of international human rights observers to challenge the ongoing illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. This Flotilla is called Break the Siege and it is an emergency mission. As the result of a deliberate policy by the Israeli government to starve the Palestinian people, the situation in Gaza is dire, with widespread and serious famine 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.

The second Flotilla is named For the Children of Gaza and will sail to various European ports on its way to Gaza. This will help to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people. 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. To raise awareness of the plight and horrible impact of the 17 year blockade, the ship Handala will sail for a little more than three months from Scandinavia, making stops across Europe until finally traversing the Mediterranean towards Gaza.

How can I find out more about the Break the Siege Flotilla?

You can find a lot more information about this Flotilla in our Break the Siege Fact Sheet. It will tell you about the ships, the passengers, the countries involved and many other details including the launch date (when it is announced) and it will report on the Flotilla’s progress as it heads towards Gaza. The fact sheet will be updated regularly as new information is available. Flotilla updates will also be available through the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and X/Twitter accounts.

Why is one of the Flotilla campaigns named ‘For the Children of Gaza’?

Since almost half of the people 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 Israel’s illegal occupation and blockade.

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

Is the 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-violence. 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 the Israeli blockade of Gaza illegal?

Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip since 1967 and, as the illegal occupying force, it is responsible for the well-being of the population within this territory (see United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 64/94). In 2011, five independent United Nations (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 United Nations warned that if the siege of Gaza continued, normal life would not be viable there by 2020. The current limited access to safe water, sufficient food, electricity, medical supplies and treatment, and the exposure to periodic bombings together make Gaza unliveable.

The current blockade has been imposed since 2006 by Israel and Egypt, with support from many other governments, particularly the United States and other Western countries. 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.

Information, including visuals about events, participants and visitors along the way will be recorded on this website, as well as on our social media sites, Facebook, X/Twitter, Telegram, and Instagram.

Why is the boat 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 approximately half of Gaza’s inhabitants are children, Handala is an appropriate name for the Flotilla’s mission For the Children of Gaza.

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. Their biographies will be posted on our website under Participants. See previous participants from 2018 and from the 2016 Women’s Boat to Gaza.

Because Break the Siege is an emergency flotilla to deliver aid, it head directly to Gaza. For the Children of Gaza will stop at several ports and in most of these we will host public outreach events. Please contact the campaign nearest to you for details on how you can get involved. See some examples of port stops from 2023.

When you stop at ports, do local people participate?

Because Break the Siege is an emergency flotilla to deliver aid, it will head directly to Gaza. For the Children of Gaza will stop at several ports and in most of these we will host public outreach events. Please contact the campaign nearest to you for details on how you can get involved. See some examples of port stops from 2023.

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, with famine setting in in northern Gaza, and catastrophic hunger present throughout the Gaza Strip as the result of a deliberate policy by the Israeli government to starve the Palestinian people. Time is critical as experts predict that hunger and disease could claim more lives than have been killed in the bombing.

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 organizations like United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) continues 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’ organizations in the local community who have been our partners since our previous Solidarity with Gaza Fishers campaign.

Are there any risks for participants?

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 about living 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.

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.

You say your campaign supports the full rights of the Palestinian people: What are they?

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 illegal 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:

  1. Ending the illegal 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;

  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.

For information about the devastating effects of the blockade, see information on ‘Conditions in Gaza‘.

How does this Freedom Flotilla mission relate to the current refugee crisis and the many people traveling 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.