April 3, 2010
Istanbul, Turkey – Following months of preparation, a coalition bringing together a number of organizations and movements working to break Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza was announced yesterday in Istanbul. The coalition, comprised of the Turkey-based IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) organization, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), the Greek Ship to Gaza campaign, the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign and the Free Gaza Movement, will launch a flotilla of ships laden with cargo, media, parliamentarians, celebrities and activists to Gaza next month.
The flotilla includes at least eight vessels, including three cargo ships, and will set sail from European ports beginning May 3, reaching the port of Gaza later in the month. Over 500 passengers from more than 20 countries will take part, and 5,000 tons of cargo, including cement, prefabricated housing, other building materials, medical equipment, and educational supplies will be delivered to Palestinians in Gaza.
The Free Gaza Movement has been launching ships to Gaza since August 2008, partnering with organizations and activists around the world on these missions. In December 2009, IHH led a land convoy to Gaza that brought tons of humanitarian aid and other supplies. In January 2010 the European Campaign brought 50 parliamentarians to Gaza in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to witness the devastation wrought by Israel’s illegal policies. Ship to Gaza/Greece and Ship to Gaza/Sweden meanwhile have had ongoing campaigns in their countries to raise awareness and funds for this effort and for materials to be brought to Gaza.
“Through this coalition, these organizations will be able to maximize resources, experience and commitment to ending the illegal siege on Gaza. Even as Israel continues its daily persecution of Palestinians, we will use this action to wake the world’s consciousness about the crimes committed against Palestinians,” said IHH President Bulent Yildirim.
The coalition invites organizations and individuals from around the world to join the effort by providing supplies for Gaza and contributing financial support for the mission.