Handala on Caledonian Canal

Scotland – Caledonian Canal: Handala Delayed by Broken Bridge – Freedom Flotilla Undeterred in Our Mission

After crossing Loch Ness and reaching partway through the Caledonian Canal, the Freedom Flotilla boat Handala was delayed in the Laggan Locks area due to a broken swing bridge. This restriction required last-minute changes to our itinerary.

“We were looking forward to being in Glasgow and meeting locals who stand for Palestinian human rights. We are inspired by the solidarity events organised there and we wish you could all meet Handala in person,” said Captain Herman Reksten, aboard Handala. “We will continue sailing as soon as we can, to challenge the inhumane and illegal blockade of Gaza. In all my sailing career I have never seen a border until I came into a harbour. The blockade of Gaza is an artificial offshore border created to oppress the Palestinians of Gaza, who are mostly children.”

Thursday evening in Glasgow, Dr. Swee Ang, who witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre and co-founded Medical Aid for Palestine, addressed a public event which was intended to welcome Handala. This British orthopaedic surgeon was the doctor on board the Freedom Flotilla vessel al-Awda (the Return) in 2018 when the Israeli Occupation Navy attacked and hijacked it en route to Gaza. Dr. Swee Ang was joined by Professor Graham Watt, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Yvonne Ridley, as well as Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who commented “This bridge collapse and temporary confinement of the Handala is an unfortunate accident, whereas the Israelis forcibly confine the Palestinian people to deliberately cause maximum suffering.”

Other planned events continued as announced, with participants from previous Flotilla missions present as well as participants from the boat currently stranded in the Caledonian Canal.

Saturday June 24 : 11am Challenging the Siege of Gaza – Again

At the Yorkhill Pontoon Quay (beside the Glasgow Riverside Museum)

Journalist Yvonne Ridley, who was on the 2008 boat to Gaza, with two Glasgow-based survivors of 2010 Israeli massacre of nine people on board the Mavi Marmara (a tenth later died of his wounds) in international waters. The Mavi Marmara was sailing to Gaza with humanitarian cargo including medicines and baby incubators.

Saturday June 24: 2pm – Scottish victories against the Apartheid State

At the Yorkhill Pontoon Quay (beside the Glasgow Riverside Museum)

Mike Arnott, Scottish Trade Union Council President, on the power of trade union boycotts

Mahmoud Sarsak on sports boycott. Mahmoud is a former member of the Palestinian national football team who was three months on hunger strike against detention without trial

Mick Napier on fighting and winning against the JNF. Mick is a founder member of Stop the JNF, the racist Jewish National Fund (UK Patron Tony Blair). The JNF is a pillar of Israeli apartheid.

Palestine Action speaker on taking on the arms companies supplying Israel.

3pm – BBQ for a donation


The Freedom Flotilla vessel Handala, sailing against the blockade of Gaza, was to arrive in Glasgow to meet supporters of human rights for Palestinians, especially for the Palestinians of Gaza who are mostly children and mostly refugees. This 18 metre former fishing vessel from northern Norway joins more than 12 years of Freedom Flotilla Coalition sailings which have challenged the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza with successive voyages since 2010.

The Scottish Trade Union Congress issued the following statement:

The STUC stands in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are subject to the illegal blockade imposed upon it by the Israeli State. As well as causing untold misery, the policy is a barrier to any meaningful progress towards the negotiation of an effective peace. “We have long opposed the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and the policy of fragmentation which effectively denies the Palestinian people their right to self-determination. The Israeli State continues to blatantly ignore UN resolution UN 2334, which calls on it to stop building new settlements on Palestinian land.“We warmly welcome the Freedom Flotilla in its mission to highlight the suffering of the Children of Gaza, bringing its message to northern Europe and to here in Scotland. Ensuring that the illegal blockade continues to be highlighted across the world and that the people of Gaza know that they are not forgotten, is a noble mission and we send our best wishes to the Freedom Flotilla crew.”

This 2023 Freedom Flotilla voyage began in early April in Kristiansund, Norway and will continue to visit northern European ports in June, July and August to raise awareness about western governments’ complicity with the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and occupation of Palestine. The vessel was named Handala in Bergen on April 13, in honour of the emblematic Palestinian refugee child http://handala.org/handala/ waiting for return to a free Palestine. This same Freedom Flotilla vessel will sail to the Mediterranean to challenge the blockade of Gaza more directly in 2024. 

Media contacts for interviews and more information:

Mick Napier, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, [email protected], +44 7958 002591

Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Freedom Flotilla Coalition, [email protected], +49 176 92642198
James Godfrey, Free Gaza Australia, [email protected],  +44 7530 446809

More background: https://freedomflotilla.org/frequently-asked-questions/

Photos, video and more: https://www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition 

Donate to the Freedom Flotilla in £ here

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