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Activists hold press conference onboard Mavi Marmara
It has been a year since the Freedom Flotilla that sailed to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza which has been striving to survive under the Israeli blockade came under an attack by Israeli commandos. S

The activists were sometimes moved while speaking at the press conference onboard the Mavi Marmara. Sheikh Raed Salah, dubbed as Custodian of al-Quds, American documentary director Iara Lee who managed to sneak the footage of the attack out of the boat and released it in a number of countries, Vangelies Pissias the mastermind of the idea to break the embargo from the sea, and Swedish Jewish activist Dror Feiler were present at the press conference.      

Dozens of representatives from Italy, Britain, the United States, Bosnia, Ireland, Spain, Jordan, Iran and Pakistan that attended the press conference once again condemned the Mavi Marmara attack and urged support for the Freedom Flotilla II that will set sail late June.    

Speaking at the press conference Greek activist Pissias said, showing the mock-up of an ancient Greek ship, “We have been sailing our ships in the Mediterranean freely for four thousand years. We do not heed Israeli hindrances and blockade. These ships will continue to sail in freedom in the Mediterranean and Gazan waters as they have for four thousand years.” He welcomed the Egyptian decision to open Rafah border crossing and added “However, there are still problems at border crossings. Serious restrictions are yet to be removed. We are advocating for the opening of Gaza border gates permanently.” Pissias urged international organizations and particularly the United Nations to stand by Gaza and the Mavi Marmara. “We are calling on the whole world to oppose aggressive and unlawful actions of Israel.”    

Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament Muhammad Zeidan thanked the people of Turkey for supporting Gaza and freedom. The blood of the Mavi Marmara martyrs was never shed in vain, Zeidan stressed and said they were touched by the decision of the families of the martyrs to take part in the upcoming freedom flotilla. IHH Deputy Head Hüseyin Oruç responded to questions of press and media representatives at the press conference onboard the Mavi Marmara boat that is docked at Haliç Dockyard. Speaking about the new flotilla Oruç firmly stated that Israel would never dare to attack participants of the freedom flotilla.   


There are 15 ships in the new freedom flotilla to Gaza, Oruç said, “The new coalition includes 22 countries. But a hundred countries will send participants. We will be sailing with 1500 people and as was the case in the first flotilla we will be taking relief supplies most needed in Gaza with us. Construction materials, medications, medical equipment, school supplies and toys for Gazan children are among these.” Oruç informed that the ships would mostly leave from European ports and would join in international waters off the coast of Cyprus and sail for Gaza. “This is a peace ship. There will be peace volunteers onboard the ship. All the ships will be open to any inspection. We do not think Israel will attack the peace volunteers again.”   

Oruç indicated that the opening of Rafah border crossing by Egypt was one of the achievements of the Freedom Flotilla and added “The border was partially opened to crossings following the first flotilla movement. And now it is fully opened. This is a pleasing yet inadequate development. Because movement of goods and persons across the border is still restricted.  Certain goods and people in certain age groups are being barred from crossing. The restrictions should be lifted altogether. We are waiting for Israel to announce as Egypt did that embargo is lifted and border crossings are opened. Besides, that land is Palestinian land. That water belongs to Palestinians. We cannot accept bans in the land of Palestine. We will use international waters and sail for Gaza.”   

“We will be marching to Taksim Square tonight in thousands and shout our demand for peace and freedom to the entire world,” he concluded.

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