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Free Gaza Movement: Anti-Israel Boat Campaign Challenges Israel's "Siege of Gaza" RULE May 2010 Flotilla

Posted: June 3, 2010

Freedom Flotilla II
May 2010 Flotilla
Organizers & Funders
Summer 2009 Mission
Previous Missions to Gaza
Background on the Free Gaza Movement

On May 31, 2010, Israeli naval forces intercepted the "Freedom Flotilla," a convoy of six ships en route to Gaza organized by FGM, several European Palestinian solidarity organizations and Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), an Istanbul-based Islamic charity with ties to Hamas.


During the operation, people aboard an IHH-owned ship called the Mavi Marmara attacked the soldiers with weapons, including knives, metal rods, and clubs, and with live gunfire from weapons taken from the Israeli soldiers. In the resulting confrontation, nine individuals were killed and more were wounded, including least seven Israeli soldiers.


The flotilla departed from ports in Cyprus and Turkey a day earlier, despite repeated warnings from Israel that its ships would not be permitted to sail into Gaza. Some supporters in Turkey waved Hamas and Hezbollah flags, including flags of Hamas's Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, as the flotilla ships set sail.


Despite claims that their primary goal was to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians, organizers of the flotilla repeatedly ignored the Israeli government's offers to deliver the aid items to Gaza through established land routes.


Assertions that the campaign's priority was anything other than political are further invalidated by documents seized from one of the boats, which outlined the goal of the missions as follows: "to generate a lot of media about the blockade on Gaza and the illegal/criminal nature of it, as well as the situation of  Palestinians in Gaza. Secondly, but connected is the goal of taking legal/political action, including jail stays, pushing foreign governments to do more than make statements, but to take punitive action towards Israel. Our position, then, is that reaching Gaza, while our intention is not our minimum strategic goal."


Greta Berlin, an FGM organizer and longtime anti-Israel activist, admitted in advance of the flotilla's departure that, "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege."


Additionally, organizers reportedly changed the flotilla's course in hopes of garnering the increased publicity that would result from a daytime, rather than a night-time, confrontation.


Prepared for Conflict

Prior to the departure of the "Freedom Flotilla," organizers and participants indicated that they were prepared to confront Israeli authorities. Many flotilla participants, including several affiliated with known extremist groups, expressed intent to resist efforts by Israeli authorities to block the flotilla from reaching Gaza, even at the expense of their own lives.

For example, videos taken prior to the Turkish vessel's departure show passengers chanting the anti-Jewish slogan "Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud, jaysh Muhammad sawfa ya'ud!," evoking the Koran's account of a battle between the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the Jews of the town of Khaibar which resulted in the subjugation of the Jews of Arabia. At least one passenger interviewed on video indicated that martyrdom was an equally desirable outcome of the mission as arriving safely in Gaza.

Below is a sampling of reports demonstrating that individuals involved in the flotilla acknowledged, in advance of the Israeli raids, that a violent confrontation might occur:

  • "It's different this time - Israel has shown that it is willing to use violent means. That's why it's important that we don't stop, that we don't give in to the notion that military might prevails" - Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement organizer and International Solidarity Movement co-founder, discussing plans for the summer flotilla, Cyprus Mail, March 30, 2010
  • "The strategy of the Freedom Flotilla, however, is to resist any attempts by the Israeli Navy to hijack its ships or to divide cargo ships from passenger vessels." - Free Gaza team, in a posting on the Free Gaza Web site titled "We will resist Israel's attempts to stop us," May 25, 2010
  • "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return." - Flotilla passengers videotaped chanting the anti-Jewish slogan prior to the Turkish vessel's departure, Al-Jazeera TV Qatar, May 28, 2010 (via the Middle East Media Research Institute/MEMRI)
  • "We await one of two good things – to achieve martyrdom or to reach the shore of Gaza." - One flotilla passenger interviewed on video, Al-Jazeera TV Qatar, May 28, 2010 (via MEMRI)
  • "Israel should not be under any illusion whatsoever that their threats or intimidation will stop us or even that their violence against us will stop us." - Huwaida Arraf,, May 29, 2010
  • "We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation of threats of violence against us… They are going to have to forcefully stop us." - Huwaida Arraf, Tehran Times, May 31, 2010
  • "Bülent Yildirim, the leader of the IHH, one of the primary organizers of the flotilla, announced just prior to boarding: 'We are going to resist and resistance will win.'" - BBC Monitoring Middle East, June 1, 2010
  • "When I went first convoy, I wanted to be a shaheed. I wasn't that lucky. Second time, I wanted to be a shaheed. Didn't work. Third time lucky inshallah I'll be shaheed." - Passenger on one of the flotilla ships expressing his hope to become a martyr during the mission to Gaza, Press TV, June 3, 2010
  • "Millions of martyrs marching to Gaza!" - Chant shouted by participants on the Mavi Marmara (via Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 18, 2010)
  • "We follow in the footsteps of the martyrs, the just, and the rightous... If we show fear, they will win once again. We don't want to be recorded in Allah's book as cowards." - IHH leader Bülent Yildirim aboard the Mavi Marmara (via Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 18, 2010)
  • "We say: If you send the commandos, we will throw you down from here and you will be humiliated in front of the whole world"  - IHH leader Bülent Yildirim aboard the Mavi Marmara (via Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 18, 2010)
  • "If they board our ship, we will throw them into the sea, Allah willing!"   - IHH leader Bülent Yildirim's comments about a possible confrontation with Israeli naval forces, as expressed in Arabic by another speaker aboard the Mavi Marmara (via Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 18, 2010)
  • "I swear on Allah, live on TV, that we felt no fear whatsoever of those brothers of apes and pigs. By Allah, I loathed them before, and my hatred of them has only grown, not because they punished and humiliated us, but because I had thought them to be worthy enemies, but it turns out that they are too despicable even to be called our enemies, because they are not our equals. They are cowards…Our hatred for these people is so intense that we wished, at those moments, that we could have been bombs, and blown up among those brothers of apes and pigs." - Ahmad Ibrahimi, Algerian delegation coordinator, Al-Aqsa TV, June 4, 2010 (via MEMRI)
  • "All the passengers on board the ship were ready for this outcome. Everybody wanted and was ready to become a martyr... Our goal was to reach Gaza or to die trying." - IHH official Hussein Orush, Al-Jazeera TV, June 5, 2010 (via MEMRI)
  • "Prominent activists in the Yemeni flotilla delegation were three MPs from the Al-Islah party, an Islamist party that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. One, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hazmi, was photographed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara brandishing his large curved dagger." - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "The Egyptian flotilla delegation included two members of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in the Egyptian parliament… Muhammad Al-Baltaji, of the Muslim Brotherhood faction in the Egyptian parliament, said: "The flotilla participants have two aims: to reach Gaza and break the siege, and to denounce Israel if it prevents the flotilla from entering Gaza, even at the cost of martyrdom or imprisonment." - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "Algerian delegation head Dr. Abd Al Razzaq Maqri, who is the deputy head of the Algerian group Movement of Society for Peace, Algeria's major Islamist party, said, 'The Algerians on board will hear only the orders of their leaders, who seek to break the siege. [The options are] martyrdom, imprisonment, or breaking [the siege].'" - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "Algerian delegation coordinator Ahmad Brahimi [sic] said about his delegation: 'Algeria has been known for its support of the Palestinian cause since the days of Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi. Our fathers gave their blood and lives to defend Palestine... and we are the sons of those fathers.' He added that the delegation's only purpose was to reach Gaza, and that Israel could not prevent it from doing so." - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "Hussein Shaker, known as 'Abu Al-Shuhada' ('Father of the Martyrs') has reportedly expressed a desire to meet 'his martyrs' (i.e. relatives killed during the 2006 Lebanon war), and has called his participation in the flotilla revenge for their deaths." - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "Another participant, Attorney Fathi Nassar of Jordan, said: 'The Freedom Flotilla members are filled with determination to reach Gaza or die.'" - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "Rami Abdou, representative of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, said that most of the participants were willing to lay down their lives to reach Gaza. He stressed that they would not allow the occupation forces to tow the ship to Ashdod." - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "Shadha Barakat's husband Ayman said that his wife was likely to be harmed during the venture, adding that 'she will make no truce with Zionism' and that 'since she was a child, she has dreamed of attacking an Israeli.' - MEMRI, June 1, 2010
  • "At a press conference in Antalya, Turkey, the flotilla organizers asked all the participants to 'write their wills.' Following the press conference, Kuwaiti Salafist MP Walid Al-Tabtabai reportedly 'did not hesitate to write his will, in defiance of the Israeli threats.'" - MEMRI, June 1, 2010

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International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

En Español (PDF)

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