Gaza Freedom Flotilla
|General||Barrier • Crossings: Erez, Karni, Rafah • Tunnels • Goods affected • Israeli-Palestinian conflict|
|2005||Israel's unilateral disengagement plan|
|2007||Battle of Gaza|
|2008||Breach of the Gaza–Egypt border • Gaza War|
|2009||Viva Palestina: "Lifeline to Gaza" • "Lifeline 3"|
|2010||Gaza flotilla raid (flotilla; ships: Mavi Marmara, Rachel Corrie; participants, reactions, legal, Turkel Commission (Israel), Gaza journey of MV Rachel Corrie) • Jewish Boat to Gaza • Viva Palestina "Lifeline 5" • Road to Hope|
|2011||Freedom Flotilla II (participants)|
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla, organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials, with the intention of breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip.123
On 31 May 2010, Israeli forces boarded the ships from speedboats and helicopters and killed nine activists (see Gaza flotilla raid). Widespread international condemnation of and reaction to the raid followed, Israel–Turkey relations were strained, and Israel subsequently eased its blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The flotilla was the Free Gaza Movement's ninth attempt to break the naval blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip.4 Israel proposed inspecting the cargo at the Port of Ashdod and then delivering non-blockaded goods through land crossings, but this proposal was turned down.5 Israeli forces then raided and seized the Gaza-bound ships in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.6
Five shipments had been allowed through prior to the 2008–09 Gaza War, but all shipments following the war were blocked by Israel.7 This flotilla was the largest to date. An Islamic aid group from Turkey, the İHH (İnsani Yardım Vakfı) (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief) sponsored a large passenger ship and two cargo ships.
While one U.N report found Israel's blockade of Gaza to be legal,89 another set of U.N. experts, reporting to the Human Rights Council, came to the opposite conclusion finding that it was in violation of international law.10
The ships of the Gaza flotilla raid comprised three passenger ships11 and three cargo ships:
- Challenger 1 (small yacht),11 US, Free Gaza Movement
- MS Eleftheri Mesogios (Free Mediterranean) or Sofia (cargo boat), Greece, Sweden 12 Greek Ship to Gaza
- Sfendoni(small passenger boat), Greece 11 Greek Ship to Gaza and European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
- MV Mavi Marmara (passenger ship),11 Comoros, İHH
- Gazze, Turkey, İHH
- Defne Y, Kiribati, İHH
Two other Free Gaza Movement ships, Challenger 2 (USA flagged) and MV Rachel Corrie (Cambodia flagged) were behind the rest of the flotilla due to mechanical problems. There have been claims this was due to Israeli sabotage, though no evidence has been produced.13 Challenger 2 aborted,citation needed but the Rachel Corrie continued its journey.14
|USA||Challenger 1||Free Gaza Movement||Heraklion|
|USA||Challenger 2||Free Gaza Movement||Heraklion|
|Greece||MS Eleftheri Mesogeios||Greek Ship to Gaza||Piraeus||Wheelchairs, building materials, medicine15|
|Greece||Sfendoni||Greek Ship to Gaza,
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
|Comoros||MV Mavi Marmara||IHH||Antalya||581|
|Turkey||Gazze||IHH||Antalya||5||13||2,104 tons of cement, 600 tons of construction steel, and 50 tons of tiles16|
|Kiribati||MV Defne Y||IHH||Antalya||27||23||150 tons of iron, 98 power units, 50 precast homes, 16 units of children's playground equipment, food, shoes, medicine, wheelchairs, clothing items, notebooks and textbooks1617|
|Cambodia||MV Rachel Corrie||Free Gaza Movement||Dundalk||11||8||550 tons of cement, 20 tons of paper, 100 tons of high-end medical equipment, wheelchairs, books, fabric, and thread|
Three of the flotilla ships carried only passengers and their personal belongings,11 while three other ships carried 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid, with an estimated value of $20 million. The cargo included food, wheelchairs, books, toys, electricity generators, operating theater equipment, medicines,1819 medical equipment, textiles, footwear, cash, mobility scooters, sofas, and building materials, such as cement,20 which are prohibited under the Israeli blockade, although Israel offered to allow the cement to enter Gaza, if the flotilla were to dock in Ashdod.21
The flotilla was reported to be carrying ballistic vests, gas masks, night-vision goggles, clubs, and slingshots,22 although the UNHRC report does not mention these items23 and in the Turkish Report on the Israeli attack on the Humanitarian Aid Convoy to Gaza it states that all passengers and crew as well as the cargo were searched to international standards and no weapons were found, on the ships departing from Turkey.24
Two-thirds of the medicines delivered by the flotilla expired between six and fifteen months prior to the raid,25 and were found to be useless.26 Some other medicines found on the flotilla were due to expire soon. Additionally, Israel said that much of the cargo, including sensitive medical equipment, was found to have been scattered in the ship's holds, and put in piles rather than packed properly for transport, and consequently damaged.11 Operating theater equipment, which was supposed to be kept sterile, was carelessly wrapped. The expiring medications and sensistive equipment were kept in frozen storage in the Israeli Defense Ministry before delivery to Gaza.27
In previous voyages, Free Gaza vessels carried 140 passengers in total. In this flotilla, over 600 activists were on board the Mavi Marmara alone.28 There were 663 passengers from 37 nations on board the flotilla.6 Notable people aboard the flotilla included Denis Halliday former UN Assistant Secretary-General, Edward Peck former U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania and Joe Meadors a survivor of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.29 Israeli-Arab member of Knesset Haneen Zoubi, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel Raed Salah, Swedish novelist Henning Mankell, convicted hijacker Erdinç Tekir, who participated in the Black Sea hijacking,30 and a number of parliamentarians from European and Arab national legislatures and the European Parliament.3132
In Jun 2010 Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told reporters Wednesday: "'We know that IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria and Gaza over the past three years,'" and "'That is obviously of great concern to us.'"33
the AP was quoted on msnbc The Turkish Islamic charity behind a flotilla of aid ships that was raided by Israeli forces on its way to Gaza had ties to terrorism networks, including a 1999 al-Qaida plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, France's former top anti-terrorism judge said Wednesday.34
||An editor has expressed a concern that this section lends undue weight to certain ideas relative to the article as a whole. Please help to discuss and resolve the dispute before removing this message. (May 2013)|
Israel questioned the humanitarian motives of flotilla organizers. Israel said it had invited the organizers to use the land crossings but they were "less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas provocations. While they have wrapped themselves in a humanitarian cloak, they are engaging in political propaganda and not in pro-Palestinian aid."36
According to an early IDF press release, the ship carried 75 mercenaries with links to al-Qaeda and other terror organizations, who carried $10,000 apiece on their persons,37 The claim was never substantiated and was later withdrawn.38 Israel has said that the group boarded separately in a different city and went on deck under different procedures. The Turkish Customs officials and the İHH denied the allegations.3940
The impending arrival of the fleet was known to Israel government, military intelligence and press.4142 Israel said that the flotilla was violating international law, but one of the flotilla's organizers, Greta Berlin, stated that "[w]e have the right to sail from international waters into the waters of Gaza".43 Israel informed the fleet that it would be redirected to the port of Ashdod44 and the cargo would be transferred to Gaza after undergoing a security inspection.45 Foreigners would be deported or, if they did not willingly agree to be deported, detained.46
The flotilla organisers rejected Israel's demand, as it did not believe that Israel would transfer the cargo to Gaza,47 and said that, "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege on 1.5 million Palestinians...4348 We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of Gaza and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation."47
The UNHRC fact-finding mission noted a "certain tension between the political objectives of the flotilla and its humanitarian objectives", which came to light "the moment the Government of Israel made offers to allow the humanitarian aid to be delivered via Israeli ports but under the supervision of a neutral organization". It also announced that Gaza did not have a deep sea port capable of receiving the sort of cargo ships participating in the flotilla. It concluded that "whilst the mission is satisfied that the flotilla constituted a serious attempt to bring essential humanitarian supplies into Gaza, it seems clear that the primary objective was political, as indeed demonstrated by the decision of those on board the Rachel Corrie to reject a Government of Ireland-sponsored proposal that the cargo in that ship be allowed through Ashdod intact".49
Some supporters of the flotilla said that "a violent response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity movement, drawing attention to the blockade."50 Two of the activists (Ali Haydar Bengi and Ibrahim Bilgen) who died during the MV Mavi Marmara clash had previously said that they wished for martydom.51 On 29 May, Aljazeera broadcast footage of Mavi Marmara activists participating in a chant calling for battle against Jews.5152
Former U.S. Marine Kenneth O'Keefe, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara, stated that the activists knew from the outset that there would be no passive resistance. "I knew that if the Israelis boarded that ship, it would be a disaster...You have to be an idiot to board that ship and think it will be a ship of passive resistance," he told Haaretz newspaper.53
In a public address in October 2010 on Al-Aqsa TV, Abd Al-Razzaq Al-Maqri, Head of Moroccan and Algerian Delegation to the Gaza Convoy, stated, according to a translation published by MEMRI, that "the mujahideen have told us that they decided not to defeat the oppressive Jews by gunfire, but instead, by daggers."54
Six of the eight ships set out on 30 May 2010 from international waters off the coast of Cyprus;46 the remaining two were delayed by mechanical problems.55 "We do not even have a jackknife here, but we will not let Israeli soldiers on board this ship," İHH leader Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım told reporters via a live video stream before the convoy set sail.28
The government of Cyprus refused to cooperate with the Free Gaza Movement or allow activists to sail from its harbors. The Cyprus Police stated that "anything related to the trip to Gaza is not permitted," and as a result remaining MPs and activists embarked instead from Famagusta in Northern Cyprus.5657 Cypriot and Greek MPs and activists refused to embark via ports in Northern Cyprus.58 Having been delayed by two days, the flotilla aimed to reach Gaza on the afternoon of 31 May.46
The IDF or the Mossad may have sabotaged three of the ships before the raid.59 According to the National Post, Israeli deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai hinted that Israel had exhausted covert means of stalling the vessels. He said: "Everything was considered. I don't want to elaborate beyond that, because the fact is there were not up to 10, or however many ships were [originally] planned."60 A senior IDF officer hinted to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that some of the vessels had been tampered with to halt them far from the Gaza or Israeli coast.6162 According to UPI press coverage, the officer alluded to "grey operations" against the flotilla and said that no such action had been taken against the Mavi Marmara out of fear that the vessel might be stranded in the middle of the sea, endangering the people on board.5962 Israel was accused of sabotaging activist ships in the past but no evidence has been found to back up these claims.59
Three ships – the Rachel Corrie, the Challenger I and the Challenger II – suffered damage or malfunction. While the Challenger I was able to continue, the Challenger II had to turn back halfway through the journey and Rachel Corrie docked for repairs in Malta. Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement said that electric wires may have been tampered with.63
Israeli forces raided the flotilla on the night of 30–31 May 2010 in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea, boarding the ships using speedboats and helicopters. Nine activists were killed. Dozens of activists and seven Israeli soldiers were injured.
After the raid, the activists were detained in Israel pending release: all were deported by 6 June. The ships were towed to Israel and those claimed by their owners were returned. The aid was delivered to Gaza under United Nations supervision on 17 June.
Widespread international condemnation of and reaction to the raid followed. Various investigations were conducted, including by the United Nations, Israel and Turkey. Israel-Turkey relations were strained, and Israel subsequently eased its blockade on Palestine.
- Buck, Tobias; Dombey, Daniel; Strauss, Delphine (31 May 2010). "Israel condemned after flotilla attack". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Black, Ian; Haroon Siddique (31 May 2010). "Q&A: The Gaza Freedom flotilla". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 June 2010.
- Lynch, Colum (1 June 2010). "Israel's flotilla raid revives questions of international law". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Foulkes, Imogen (14 June 2010). "ICRC says Israel's Gaza blockade breaks law". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
• "U.N. Human Rights Chief: Israel's Blockade of Gaza Strip Is Illegal". Fox News. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Mitnick, Joshua (1 June 2010). "Flotilla Assault Off Gaza Spurs Crisis". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Kosharek, Noah (6 June 2010). "Israel transfers hundreds of Gaza flotilla activists to airport for deportation". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Demirjian, Karoun (28 May 2010). "Israeli commandos to block Gaza activists". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- MacFarquhar, Neil; Bronner, Ethan (2 September 2011). "Report Finds Naval Blockade by Israel Legal but Faults Raid". The New York Times.
- "Palmer report: Gaza blockade legal, IDF force excessive".
- "U.N. experts say Israel's blockade of Gaza illegal". Reuters. Sept 13 2011. Retrieved 05/05/2013.
- "Summary of equipment and aid aboard the Gaza flotilla". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 7 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
- UNHRC report 2010, p. 20.
- Lis, Jonathan (1 June 2010). "Mossad chief: Israel gradually becoming burden on U.S.". Haaretz. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
• "Gaza flotilla: Israel accused of 'sabotaging' Irish aid ship Rachel Corrie". Daily Telegraph (London). 4 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
• Booth, Robert; Black, Ian (1 June 2010). "Gaza aid flotilla: Israeli sabotage suspected". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Taoiseach warns Israel of 'consequences' over arrests". Irish Times. 1 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2011. "MV Rachel Corrie ... is ploughing ahead with its attempt to deliver aid to Gaza despite yesterday's deadly attack by the Israeli navy on a Gaza-bound flotilla."
- "Freed activists recount bullets, electroshocks". Kuwait Times. 2 June 2010. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- "Özgürlük Filosu'nu komandolar basacak" [Commandos will board Liberty Fleet]. Aksam (in Turkish) (Istanbul). 28 May 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Mohyeldin, Ayman (1 June 2010). "Evidence belies Israeli claim". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- "Q&A: Israeli deadly raid on aid flotilla". BBC News. 6 June 2010. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011. Often updated.
- Sherwood, Harriet (25 May 2010). "Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 3 October 2011.
• 王寒露 (Wáng Hánlù) (28 May 2010). "Turkish aid ship leaves for Gaza". People's Daily Online (Beijing). Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Sherwood, Harriet (3 June 2010). "Hamas refuses flotilla aid delivered by Israel". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 June 2010.
- "Ship attempting to break Gaza maritime closure boarded without incident". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 5 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Friedman, Ron (3 June 2010). "Wheelchairs as well as weapons found on board aid ships". Jerusalem Post.
- UNHRC report 2010, pp. 22–24.
- Turkish NCI interim report 2010, p. 10: "All personal belongings and cargo were also thoroughly inspected and cleared."
• Turkish NCI final report 2011, p. 113.
- "Hamas prevents flotilla aid from entering Gaza". Haaretz. DPA. 8 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- "Death in the Med". BBC News. 20 August 2010. Archived from the original on 1 September 2010. See also possible alternate availability.
- Ronen, Gil (10 June 2010). "It's Official: There was No Humanitarian Aid on Mavi Marmara". Israel National News. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Champion, Marc; Coker, Margaret (4 June 2010). "Israel-Turkey Crisis: U.S. Citizen Among Dead in Gaza Ship Raid". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Sugden, Joanna (1 June 2010). "Gaza ships: the passenger list". The Times (London). Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- "Turkish Press Scan for Aug. 20: Two Ships, Same Activist". Hürriyet Daily News. 20 August 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Keinon, Herb (24 August 2010). "Activist on 'Mavi Marmara' Black Sea ferry hijacker". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- McGeough, Paul (31 May 2010). "Tension builds as flotilla approaches Gaza". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- Krieger, Hilary (3 June 2010). "US concerned over IHH-Hamas ties". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
- de Montesquiou, Alfred (2 June 2010). "Turkish aid group had terror ties". NBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
- "According to the Turkish media (June 2012), IHH head Bülent Yildirim was under investigation for having clandestinely transferred funds to Al-Qaeda.". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 17 July 2012.
- Palmor, Yigal (24 May 2010). "MFA Spokesman on Gaza flotilla". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Benhorin, Yitzhak (13 June 2010). "Ayalon to CNN: We won't apologize for flotilla raid". Ynetnews. Tel Aviv. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
- Shabi, Rachel (6 June 2010). "Israel forced to apologise for YouTube spoof of Gaza flotilla". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- Soncan, Emre; Salcioğlu, Muzaffer; Yenilmez, Cihan (31 May 2010). "Customs officials deny Israeli claims weapons were onboard". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Federman, Josef (6 June 2010). "Israel says activists prepared for fight on ship". The Washington Times. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- "Head to Head in the Heart of the Sea". Maariv. 28 May 2010. p. 4.
- Blumenthal, Max (3 June 2010). "The Flotilla Raid Was Not 'Bungled.' The IDF Detailed Its Violent Strategy In Advance". MaxBlumenthal.com. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- AFP staff (27 May 2010). "Gaza aid fleet undeterred as Israel steps up warnings". France 24. AFP. Retrieved 7 June 2010.dead link
- Kershner, Isabel (27 May 2010). "Defying Blockade, Cargo and Passenger Vessels Head for Gaza". New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Fox News (31 May 2010). "Israeli Officials Claim Aid Flotilla Had Ties to Al Qaeda, PM Gives Military 'Full Support'". Fox News. NewsCore and AP. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Amos Harel; Avi Issacharoff, Anshel Pfeffer and News Agencies (31 May 2010). "Israel Navy commandos: Gaza flotilla activists tried to lynch us". Haaretz. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- CNN staff (31 May 2010). "Q&A: Aid and Israel's Gaza blockade". CNN World. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
- Al Jazeera and agencies (28 May 2010). "Tensions rise over Gaza aid fleet". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- UNHRC report 2010, p. 19.
- "Gaza Freedom March Prepares Emergency Response for Freedom FLOTILLA". Intifada Palestine. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
• NY Times editors (1 June 2010). "Israel and the Blockade". New York Times: Editorial. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
- Spencer, Richard (2 June 2010). "Gaza flotilla attack: Turkish activists killed in raid 'wanted to be martyrs'". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Marcus, Itamar; Zilberdik, Nan Jacques (31 May 2010). "Gaza flotilla participants created war atmosphere before confronting Israel". Palestinian Media Watch. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Sheizaf, Noam (24 September 2010). "Rough Passage". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- "Abd Al-Razzaq Al-Maqri, Head of Moroccan and Algerian Delegation to Convoy to Gaza: 'Israel Will Be Annihilated Soon'". Washington, DC: MEMRI. 22 October 2010. Clip No. 2682. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Foreign staff (1 June 2010). "4 Turks dead on aid ship". Business Day. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
- Kambas, Michele (28 May 2010). "Cyprus bans activists from joining flotilla". AlertNet. Thomson Reuters Foundation. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- Psyllides, George (30 May 2010). "Flotilla ready to set sail". Cyprus Mail. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
- Kourakis, T (29 May 2010). "Ευρωπαίοι ακτιβιστές έφυγαν από τα κατεχόμενα για τη Γάζα" [European activists have left for occupied Gaza]. In.gr (in Greek). Retrieved 4 June 2010.
- "Did Israel tamper with flotilla?". United Press International. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
- Williams, Dan (1 June 2010). "Israel admits mistakes in boarding ship". National Post. Reuters. Archived from the original on 6 June 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- Macintyre, Donald; Green, Toby (5 June 2010). "Israel warns Gaza-bound 'Rachel Corrie' to stop". The Independent (London). Retrieved 28 June 2010.
- Lis, Jonathan (1 June 2010). "Mossad chief: Israel gradually becoming burden on U.S.". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
- "Israel releases last of activists seized on aid ships". The Hindu (Chennai, India). DPA. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance". UN Human Rights Council. 27 September 2010. p. 66. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
- "Interim Report on the Israeli Attack on the Humanitarian Aid Convoy to Gaza on 31 May 2010". Ankara: Turkish National Commission of Inquiry. September 2010. p. 74. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- "Report on the Israeli Attack on the Humanitarian Aid Convoy to Gaza on 31 May 2010". Ankara: Turkish National Commission of Inquiry. February 2011. p. 117. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- Media related to Gaza flotilla clash at Wikimedia Commons
|Wikinews has related news: Attorney general drops case against Israeli participants in Freedom Flotilla|