“The Freedom Flotilla 2,” is expected to take 4,000 peace activists from around the world on 20 ships to Gaza.
The ships will gather in the area where Mavi Marmara which was part of a six-ship flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza was attacked last May.
Nine activists were killed when Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara on May 31, prompting sharp international condemnation and two United Nations investigations of the raid.
A news conference was held in Rome to discuss preparations for the second aid flotilla where the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation was represented by Executive Board Member Hüseyin Oruç.
Representatives from Free Gaza Movement, The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Greece were also among the participants of the news conference.
As individuals defending international law and human rights, representatives from the aforementioned institutions noted that they will continue their efforts to draw attention to the tragedy in Gaza and do their best for the removal of the Gaza blockade
Freedom Flotilla Italia coordinator Germano Monti said more people will join the second aid flotilla, adding that he expects the Italian government to take the necessary measures to protect the peace activists.
“The governments already accept the illegitimate Israeli blockade on Gaza and they are very insufficient to fight against this. We ask them to at least to protect the lives of the activists that will join the aid flotilla,” said Monti.
IHH’s Oruç said the new flotilla’s goal is to take humanitarian aid to Gaza and they have no “secret agenda.”
Oruç also explained that the IHH is a humanitarian relief foundation which institutionalized following relief work during Bosnian War, adding that the institution should not be mixed up with another IHH banned by Germany.
Noting that the Mavi Marmara ship which is owned by the IHH could join the second aid flotilla, Oruç said: “In our first voyage to Gaza which was stopped by Israel, there were six main organizers. Now, many non-governmental organizations across the world and peace activists give support to the second aid flotilla and they prepare their own ships for the voyage.”
In addition to Mavi Marmara, we have Defne and Gazze ships that we took back from Israel after they were stopped on their way to Gaza. Perhaps, we will join the flotilla with new ships. We will set sail from İstanbul,” added Oruç.
Israel cannot attempt second attack
Indicating that all that is being done for Gaza is done within framework of the international law, Oruç said: “We did nothing illegal in our first voyage and will not do again in our second voyage. As mentioned by a UN report, the first flotilla was stopped brutally but I don’t think Israel will attempt to carry out yet another attack when many countries have voiced their support for the new flotilla. I do not think Israel will attack on a larger flotilla which will carry more influential and prominent figures than the first one and whose entire voyage will be broadcast live.”
He said the names of the passengers of the second aid flotilla will not be revealed until the very last moment to prevent them from facing any pressure. “All the ships will set sail from different ports and will meet in the area where Israel attacked the Mavi Marmara, arrested and kidnapped us. We will tell Israel ‘We are going on our way from the point we stopped.’”
Journalist writes book on flotilla attack
Italian journalist Angela Lano who was on board the first aid flotilla wrote a book about the flotilla attack. Delivering a speech at the news conference, Lano said: “Following the Israeli attack on the flotilla, the worst thing for me was to be subjected to pressure from the Italian press. They introduced me as a terrorist journalist. I am very angry about the Israeli violence.”
Dr. Mohammad Hannoun, a Palestinian leader in Rome, said the new flotilla will be financed through donations in a transparent way and around 140,000 euros have already been collected in the aid campaign launched in Italy.
Representatives of the new flotilla campaign said everyone who wants to see the aid materials on the ships would be welcome to do so in order to ensure maximum transparency.
Noting that “the mission will be accomplished this time,” Hannoun said: “The goal of the flotilla is to reach the Palestinian public. We want to take concrete steps against Israeli blockade on Gaza. Our mission is just to fulfill a humanitarian duty.”