Days before a probable showdown at sea between Palestine solidarity activists traveling with a nine-ship fleet and the Israeli Navy, demonstrations took place across the United States and the world today to demand that Israel allow the activists safe passage to Gaza to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid.
In New York, more than 100 people gathered outside the building of the New York Daily News to call attention to the lack of news coverage of the flotilla, walked past the Israeli Consulate and marched to Times Square chanting “Break the blockade, Gaza needs aid.” They passed out hundreds of fliers to pedestrians explaining how the “Freedom Flotilla” was attempting to break the blockade of Gaza and what the potential Israeli response could be. In Times Square, demonstrators gathered in the center and chanted “Free, free Palestine” while tourists looked on and snapped pictures.
The “Freedom Flotilla” is made up of nine ships now in the Mediterranean Sea sailing to Gaza. The ships are stocked with badly needed aid, like construction materials, medical equipment and school supplies, for Gazans; such aid has been blocked by a crippling Israeli naval, air and land blockade. Palestine solidarity activists from more than two dozen countries, including the United States, are also part of the flotilla.
The Israeli Navy has vowed to stop the ships from reaching Gaza, and has set up a makeshift detention camp at Ashdod, a port in southern Israel, for processing, detaining and deporting the activists who are part of the mission.
“Through their system of apartheid and occupation, they’re denying the Palestinians the right to live,” said Randa Wahbe, a Palestinian-American active with Students for Justice in Palestine at Columbia University and Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel.