Gaza: breaking the Israeli siege

IssueJune 2010
News by David Polden

Eight ships are at the time of writing preparing to try to take badly-needed supplies into Gaza, in defiance of the Israeli naval blockade.

The convoy is the fruit of an international coalition involving the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), the European Campaign to Break the Siege of Gaza, the Greek and Swedish Ship to Gaza Campaigns and IHH, a Turkish campaign. FGM has organised eight similar missions to Gaza in the past three years, the first five successfully.

The last three were violently stopped by the Israeli navy; the boat Dignity was rammed three times and the Spirit of Humanity seized and all aboard arrested.

This time, FGM is providing four boats, including a 1,200-tonne cargo-ship renamed the Rachel Corrie after the International Solidarity Movement activist killed in Gaza. The four ships are carrying 700 passengers and 5,000 tonnes of reconstruction materials and medical supplies.

Previously only one or two boats have attempted to break the siege; it is hoped upping the ante to eight will make it much more difficult, politically and practically, for the Israeli navy to attempt to intercept them all.

However, FGM reports Israeli news sources as saying that orders have been issued to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza, even if this requires the use of military force. Let’s hope this is mere sabre rattling.