Free Gaza is a human rights group founded in 2006. Our mission is to break the Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza’s 1.8 million civilians, since it inflicts collective punishment on the Palestinians who live there and has destroyed its economy.
Free Gaza believes in direct action in confronting Israel’s abuse of Palestinians using non-violent means and has found these voyages to be one of the most effective ways to alert the world to the prison-like conditions of Gaza. Ultimately, there is no better example of direct action than Free Gaza’s sustained attempts to break the siege on Gaza which Israel claims it no longer occupies.
15 flotillas or waves have been launched since August 2008, five have succeeded in making it to Gaza. After Operation Cast lead, the Israeli military attacked our small boats three times.
When we were attacked in July 2009, Free Gaza decided to organize a much larger flotilla with the help of IHH, the European Campaign to End the Siege and three other smaller initiatives. We set sail in May 2010, as Freedom Flotilla I. This was our 9th voyage. Israel’s lethal attack on all six boats killed 10 people and wounded over 60.
The 10th voyage which was to leave Greece in July 2011 was held in port by Greece security forces when they caved in to pressure from Israel and the US, as these two countries outsourced the occupation to Greece. There have been several waves of boats that have tried to break the seige since then, including a Jewish boat, the Canadian boat, Tahrir, and the Swedish boat, the Estelle.
All have failed to sail into Gaza, because they have been violently stopped by the Israeli military. However, we made a promise to return, and we continue to work with other initiatives to send boats to this tiny enclave in the Mediterranean, the only country that has no access to its own sea.