Bethlehem /PNN /
In a powerful display of support for Palestinian rights, the Freedom Flotilla vessel "Handala" has made its way to English and Welsh ports during its mission against the long-standing blockade of Gaza. The vessel's visit has garnered widespread attention and appreciation from human rights advocates, particularly those concerned about the welfare of Palestinian children and refugees in the Gaza Strip. The vessel, measuring 18 meters in length and hailing from northern Norway, is part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which has been challenging the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza through numerous voyages since 2010.
Throughout its journey, "Handala" has received a warm welcome from supporters at events held in Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol, and most recently, Southampton. Local chapters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign have provided essential backing for the initiative, with trade unionists, progressive politicians, and community representatives extending greetings and support to the crew.
Jase Tanner, a Vancouver-based filmmaker and Steering Committee member of the Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG), joined the voyage from Scotland to Bristol. During the journey, Tanner diligently documented various events and speakers, capturing the essence of the Flotilla's mission. Wendy Goldsmith, an Advocate/Counsellor from London and a member of CBG, represents the Freedom Flotilla Steering Committee from Bristol to Southampton and onward to Rotterdam. Wendy, who participated in the 2016 Women's Boat to Gaza, expressed her dedication to raising awareness about the plight of Palestinian children in Gaza, emphasizing that the area has been deemed the world's largest open-air prison by the United Nations.
Highlighting the overarching mission of the Freedom Flotilla, Wendy remarked, “We sail to bring awareness to Israel's ongoing violations of International law, their apartheid regime, and their blatant disregard for the humanitarian crisis it has created and sustains.”
Dimitri Lascaris, a prominent Montreal lawyer-journalist, who covered the 2018 Flotilla For a Just Future for Palestine, will join the final leg of this year's journey in Scandinavia in August.
The 2023 Freedom Flotilla set sail from Kristiansund, Norway, in early April and reached Scotland in June. In the months of July and August 2023, the vessel is scheduled to visit several northern European ports, aiming to raise awareness about Western governments' complicity with the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and occupation of Palestine.
On April 13, during a solemn ceremony in Bergen, the vessel was christened "Handala" in tribute to the symbolic Palestinian refugee child who patiently awaits the day of a free Palestine, seeking to return home. Notably, "Handala" will embark on another mission to the Mediterranean in 2024, directly challenging the blockade of Gaza.
For those seeking further information about the 2023 Freedom Flotilla, a comprehensive FAQ has been provided. Additionally, supporters are encouraged to follow and share the Flotilla's videos on YouTube, as well as their messages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
As the Freedom Flotilla continues its vital journey, it serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice, human rights, and solidarity with the people of Palestine. The brave crew aboard "Handala" remains unwavering in their dedication to shedding light on the plight of those living under the blockade, and their unwavering mission resonates with people around the world who advocate for peace and equality in the region