This year, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla sails again.
The Flotilla first sailed to Gaza in 2010. It did so for the purpose of breaking Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza, which began in 2005.
Israel’s response to the 2010 Flotilla was characteristically brutal. Israeli special forces stormed the Flotilla vessels in international waters and killed ten Turkish nationals — including a man with dual U.S. citizenship — who were passengers on the MV Mavi Marmara, the Flotilla’s largest vessel.
The Flotilla sailed again in 2011, 2015, 2016 (Women’s Boat to Gaza) and 2018. On each occasion, Israel forcibly prevented the Flotilla’s vessels from reaching Gaza.
I first travelled on the Flotilla in 2018. I was unable, however, to complete the journey because I developed appendicitis between Cadiz, Spain and Naples, Italy. The Swedish captain of our vessel, Jens Marklund, decided to divert our vessel to Algeria so that I could receive emergency medical treatment.
Upon our arrival at the port of Algiers, an ambulance transported me to a public hospital. There, I was given an appendectomy. As an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the hospital’s chief of surgery (pictured below) told me that I didn’t have to pay anything for the excellent medical treatment that I had received from his staff. The Algerian people are all-too-familiar with Western colonialism and oppression.
In an Algiers hospital, with the hospital’s chief of surgery
This year, the Freedom Flotilla set sail in Scandinavia. I joined the Flotilla on August 12, in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Upon my arrival at the port in Gothenburg, I delivered a speech about the growing international consensus that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid. As I explained in my speech, Western governments are deeply complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity:
On August 12, before our ship’s departure, visitors were treated to a performance of traditional Palestinian dance and music.
Our vessel, the Handala, is scheduled to arrive in Oslo, Norway on Monday, August 14.
I plan to issue several reports about our journey in the days ahead.
Until then, viva viva Palestina!