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Shiploads of love and peace for Gaza face US hurdle

by Zahid Jadwat
Palestinian health workers unearth a body buried by Israeli forces in Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 21, 2024. In coming days, the Freedom Flotilla is expected to deliver aid. [AFP]

Shiploads of love, peace and aid for the people of Gaza, Palestine, are being hampered by the United States (US). On Tuesday, a senior figure of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FCC) said US pressure on Turkey meant the flotilla was stuck in Istanbul.

Taking to social media platform X, Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK, wrote: “The US is exerting immense pressure on Turkey to prevent us from sailing to Gaza with much-needed food and medicine. But we won’t be deterred”.

Since Yoav Gallant declared the occupation forces were fighting “human animals” and ordered a “complete siege”, the people of Gaza have endured months of a War of Extermination. Hunger, illness and death roam the enclave’s tattered streets.

There have been occasional airdrops of aid, but not nearly enough to meet the needs of Palestinians in Gaza. Critics argue the airdrops do not absolve the US of its complicity in the genocide, which it is funding with another $26 billion package.

The US is also building a temporary port, planned for completion early May, but pressuring Turkey to hold the Flotilla back only casts further mistrust on its intentions behind the move. It appears only certain groups may deliver aid – those that are in either Israel’s or the US’ good books.


SMread: Freedom Flotilla volunteers undergo intense training


In 2010, Israel raided six civilian ships in international waters. Destined for Gaza, the ships were part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials. The incident claimed 10 lives.

Speaking in a recent interview on Salaamedia, Dr Yvonne Ridley, one of the volunteers participating in the upcoming Flotilla, said volunteers were far from being a threat to Israel.

“It’s not a dangerous mission; that is down to Israel. Israel will dictate the danger. We are an unarmed convoy on board three ships and we want to deliver aid and peace. What’s dangerous about that?” she asked.

“The majority of us are women in our golden years … You’re more likely to hear us talking about the best hearing aids and who’s had a hip operation. We don’t present any sort of threat, but the women on this convoy are fearless. They are totally committed to Gaza, totally committed to human life and totally committed to breaking the siege.”

A word of advice to Israeli authorities, who were reportedly preparing for the Flotilla: “As any man who’s married knows, you don’t get in the way of a determined woman. You get out of the way”.

Meanwhile, more than 100 students were arrested in the US states of California and Texas by Thursday. Protestors at the University of Texas, Austin (UT Austin) and the University of Southern California (USC) intensified demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians.

In Gaza itself, the territory’s civil defence agency on Wednesday revealed the discovery of mass graves containing 392 bodies at the Nasser Medical Complex, Khan Younis. It said there were signs of executions and people being buried alive, prompting condemnation from the United Nations (UN) and calls for a credible investigation.


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