In preparation for its next anti-Israel project, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, (FFC) met in Barcelona on Sunday to evaluate past actions and to plan for future work, “in light of the extremely deteriorated situation in Palestine, the Israeli oppression and the continued blockade of Gaza.”
The following strategic plan was adopted: in 2016 a Women’s Boat to Gaza will sail to challenge the Israeli blockade; then, in 2017, the focus will shift to solidarity with the fishermen of Gaza; and in 2018 the coalition plans to send in a large vessel carrying hundreds of supporters from around the world to “challenge the blockade.”
The land, air, and sea blockades of the Gaza Strip have been enforced by Israel since 2007, and by Egypt when it has not been ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. After Hamas had won the Palestinian elections in the strip in 2006, and eventually seized control of the Gaza Strip from the PLO, it declared war on the Jewish State, vowing to destroy it, and refusing to honor the peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians. There was also the June, 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which was followed by Operation Summer Rains— the IDF war against Hamas. Since then, Egypt and Israel have sealed their border crossings with Gaza, opening them infrequently only to close them in a hurry when some residents of Gaza inevitably shoot rockets at the other side.
Israel insists that, in this perpetual state of war with Hamas, the blockade is necessary to limit rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on its civilians and to prevent Hamas from obtaining other weapons by sea. Egypt, for its part, razed an entire Gazan neighborhood last year, to create a wide and easily governable no man’s land between Egypt and the Gaza strip. Egypt has also been systematically flooding the Hamas smuggling tunnels connecting its territory with Gaza.
At this point, Hamas holds the key to removing the blockade: embrace the peace accords, disavow its plan to annihilate the Jews of Israel, and begin to care for its own, downtrodden population. But since that’s not in the cards, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition is there to lend its support.
In the Barcelona meeting, on Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1, the following campaigns were represented:
Canadian Boat to Gaza
European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza
Freedom Flotilla Italy
Palestine Solidarity Alliance (South Africa)
Rumbo a Gaza (Spain)
Ship to Gaza – Norway
Ship to Gaza – Sweden
It was the first FFC face-to-face meeting after its Freedom Flotilla III, in which most of the boats turned back to Greece harbor midway, and the flagship Marianne was boarded peaceably by the Israeli Navy, and all the delegates on board were detained and sent home.
The Barcelona meeting ended with an ambitious resolution, to “continue our work until the blockade of Gaza is lifted, occupation comes to an end and all just rights of the Palestinian people are restored.”
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