An Israeli investigation into last year’s flotilla incident may have just ended, but pro-Palestinian activists are still gearing up their plans for the “Freedom Flotilla II.”
The new flotilla will be much larger than the previous six-boat affair, with estimates ranging from 20 to 50 boats, the activists told the Washington Times:
“We have at least 15 different groups right now at one or two boats each,” said Huwaida Arraf, chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, one of the leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the effort. “Every meeting we have, we get one or two new country-based networks or coalitions that want to join.”
And, of course, the participants are taking the necessary steps to ensure that this flotilla is a public-relations success. They’re even planning to send the ships out as close to the anniversary of last year’s flotilla as possible:
“May 31 would be a very good date for many reasons,” said Dror Feiler, spokesman for Ship to Gaza-Sweden. “To pay tribute to the martyrs who died for the people of Gaza and human rights. From a media perspective. And also logistics: It is not too early, and we will be very well prepared. Others want to go sooner.”
Yes, the “martyrs” — who attacked unarmed soldiers with clubs and knives.
After the first flotilla incident, Israel relaxed some of its import and export restrictions on Gaza. That move was supposed to quiet international pressure, but it looks like it was just further encouragement for flotilla activists.
One activist, Dror Feiler, told the Washington Times that their message to Israel “is that we are going to go again and again and again until the siege of Gaza ends.” Which means that Israel will probably have to contend with this annually.
The Freedom Flotilla has really become something of a franchise for these activists. In addition to the Mavi Marmara action movie set to be released later this month, Gaza flotilla T-shirts, and a “We Will Sail On” music video, they’re now apparently planning a sequel. But at least this time, Israel will be prepared.