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The Freedom Flotilla’s Voyage to Break Israel’s Siege

A former Norweigan fishing boat transformed by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition and Ship to Gaza-Norway, 2018. Jean-Pierre Bazard (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Peace activists aim to sail through the military blockade of Gaza.


APRIL 18, 2024

Hundreds of civilians from more than thirty countries will be sailing into the Israeli Navy’s blockade in a show of defiance and solidarity with the people of Gaza. Dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, this latest effort to break the Israeli siege of Gaza and will carry 5,500 tons of humanitarian aid for the victims of famine, which the organizers label as ongoing state terrorism.

“We can’t sit by and not do anything, which our governments continue to do. And therefore in February, we took the decision to organize an emergency flotilla to Gaza,” says Huwaida Arraf, a U.S.-based organizer with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

With more than six months having passed since Israel began its assault on Gaza following the October 7 attacks by Hamas, several ships will set sail across the Mediterranean Sea carrying “food, medical supplies, and other goods urgently needed for survival,” according to the coalition’s website. According to Arraf, the vessels will be leaving from at least two ports, one of which will be in Turkey.

Israel has killed more than 33,000 Gazans as well as nearly 500 people in the West Bank since October 7, 2023. Parts of Gaza are already experiencing famine, more than 70 percent of housing has been destroyed, and basic goods like hygiene products and fuel are in extremely short supply, all collectively heightening the risk of disease and death for Gazans.

Cassandra Dixon, a carpenter from Wisconsin who will be aboard the flotilla, says that she’s participating “because I find it so appalling that in 2024, we’re facing a situation where children are enduring famine, children are dying of starvation. I mean, I can barely stand to say the words.”

Human Rights Watch recently stated that “children in Gaza have been dying from starvation-related complications since the Israeli government began using starvation as a weapon of war, a war crime.”

In October, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared a “complete siege” saying “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed . . . . We are fighting against human animals and we will act accordingly.” 

“I wanted to be part of this effort that was bringing attention to the severe humanitarian crisis that’s happening in Gaza, which is a product of the genocidal war, and bring awareness to the blockade,” says Suzanne Adely, the president of the National Lawyers Guild, who will be on the flotilla.

Since 2007, with Egypt’s cooperation, Israel has imposed a permanent naval, air, and land blockade on Gaza. It was the imposition of that blockade that sparked the first Freedom Flotilla effort.

“It was two fishing boats with forty-four people on it,” Arraf, who took part in 2008 in the first flotilla, says, “not bringing any aid but determined to challenge . . . an unlawful blockade.” That effort made it through, but not all flotillas have gone well. In 2010, Israel notoriously killed ten activists on a flotilla, including one who later died of wounds suffered during the attack.

Given this past history and Israel’s current lack of concern about whom it executes, Dixon is afraid of what might happen to her. But, she says, “I am even more afraid and even more distressed by the thought of being okay with the use of starvation as a weapon in our time. And with the support of our tax dollars, and our foreign policy.”

The United States sends $3.8 billion to Israel each year, which is more than it sends to any other country in the world. This doesn’t include the additional $14 billion that the Biden Administration is currently attempting to pressure Congress into providing. All told, the United States has sent more than $300 billion to Israel since its founding in 1948; and Israel, in turn, imports 80 percent of its weapons from the United States.

According to a video posted on X, Ann Wright, a steering committee member of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, says the group is made up of twelve collaborating organizations from around the world. Wrightfirst became publicly known as a State Department official who resigned on principle prior to the beginning of the Iraq War.

“I’m looking forward to being with all of these organizers and activists who are coming together in a show of solidarity, and really build off of each other’s energies,” Adely says. She emphasized “the significance of a trip like this and all the respect I have for those who have been taking these missions for many years. My hope is that we are able to reach Gaza.”

Saurav Sarkar

Saurav Sarkar is a freelance writer based in the New York area who frequently covers Starbucks Workers United. He can be reached at or on Twitter @sauravthewriter. READ MORE BY SAURAV SARKAR





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