Freedom Flotilla prepares for humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza

The International Freedom Flotilla Coalition, formed by non-governmental organizations from a dozen countries, is continuing its preparations on a ship called the Mediterranean, a vessel to carry much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza.

A press conference held on the ship at a private shipyard in Tuzla, Istanbul said about 1,000 people are expected to take part in the massive aid effort.

Speaking at a meeting attended by activists from several countries including Germany, Malaysia, Palestine, Norway, Argentina, Spain, Canada, and South Africa, retired US soldier and former diplomat Ann Wright said that they first began efforts for Gaza in 2010 with the Mavi Marmara ship and seven other vessels, with participants from dozens of countries, and that they are here again for this humanitarian mission.

Cease-fire in Gaza crucial

Fauziah Mohd Hasan, a physician working with the Malaysian Freedom Flotilla Movement, said news outlets such as CNN and BBC have said that the problem in the region is caused by Iran or other countries, but in fact the situation is very different.

Saying that Israel's policy in the region is based on the killing of women, children, and other civilians, Hasan said: "Today, the Freedom Flotilla is preparing to set off again with the participation of dozens of countries and hundreds of people, with thousands of tons of humanitarian aid. The most important call in this mission is to ensure a cease-fire in the region."

Noting that preparations were made for this journey with more than 280 important figures from around the world, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, and academics, Hasan added: "As a gynecologist, I know this: There is a tragedy in Gaza with more than 180 births every day and thousands of pregnant women waiting. After this crisis in the region, thousands of pregnant women were seriously affected by the process. This crisis seems to have turned into a complete ethnic cleansing in the region."

The doctor also said he has seen how “mothers have serious problems, especially during birth, and that they can’t feed their children due to malnutrition."

"In line with civil human rights, we call for a rapid cease-fire in the region," Hasan added.

Call for humanitarian aid to Gaza

Torstein Dahle from the Norwegian Freedom Flotilla Movement said that humanitarian aid should be delivered especially to Gaza in light of the genocide and massacre that has been going on in the region for more than six months.

Thanking Türkiye for its work on humanitarian aid, Dahle said: "All international states, including Türkiye, must safely transfer this aid to the region in line with the decisions of the international criminal courts and ensure a permanent cease-fire in the region."

Huwaida Araf from the US Freedom Flotilla Movement also said they were preparing for this journey with the support of millions of people.

After the speeches, former diplomat Wright spoke about whether the tension between Iran and Israel could affect the flotilla.

Saying the people living in Gaza are facing an impossible situation, Wright said the global community should seek justice for Gazans at international criminal courts and press for a cease-fire to end this genocide.

On what to do in case of an Israeli attack, Wright said, "Israel's record is quite full in this regard, according to international rules and international human rights. In this sense, Israel making a mistake once again is not a good situation for its own security."

Wright added that preparations are continuing and the public will be told soon when the ship will set sail.

Many journalists from the national and international press attended the meeting on the flotilla.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7, 2023, cross-border attack by Palestinian group Hamas in which some 1,200 people were killed.

More than 34,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, and over 76,800 others have been injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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