The Freedom Flotilla vessel Handala, sailing against the blockade of Gaza, has been visiting English and Welsh ports this month. Supporters of human rights for Palestinians, especially for the Palestinians of Gaza who are mostly children and refugees, have greeted Handala at events in Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol and most recently Southampton.
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. With support from local chapters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, welcome events included greetings from trade unionists, progressive politicians and communityrepresentatives.
Vancouver film-maker and Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG) Steering Committee member Jase Tanner joined the voyage from Scotland to Bristol, documenting many of the events and speakers along the way. From Bristol to Southampton to Rotterdam, the Freedom Flotilla Steering Committee is represented by London women’s Advocate/Counsellor and CBG member Wendy Goldsmith, who also participated in the 2016 Women’s Boat to Gaza. Wendy says she is sailing with Handala to help raise awareness of the plight of Palestinian children in Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison, deemed uninhabitable by the United Nations: “We sail to bring awareness to Israel’s ongoing violations of International law, their apartheid regime and their blatant disregard for the humanitarian crisis it has created and sustains.” Montreal lawyer-journalist Dimitri Lascaris, who covered the 2018 Flotilla For a Just Future for Palestine, will join this year’s final leg in Scandinavia in August.
This year’s voyage began in early April in Kristiansund, Norway and crossed from Oslo to Scotland in June. Our boat will continue to visit northern European ports in July and August of 2023 to raise awareness about Western governments’ complicity with the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and occupation of Palestine. The vessel was named Handala at a ceremony in Bergen on April 13, in honour of the emblematic Palestinian refugee child 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.
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Bateau canadien pour GAZA: www.canadaboatgaza.org