Statement by Crawley Labour Party Executive

Since the 11-year blockade of Gaza by Israel, which has been declared illegal by the UN, who are now deeply concerned about the hardship being endured by the ordinary people there, there have been many attempts to reach Gaza by sea in order to deliver aid and medical supplies to the Palestinian people who are suffering under siege. These attempts have failed, most notably in 2010 when Israeli forces hijacked a boat and killed 12 Turkish citizens. Although the Israeli Government has since apologised for this, and paid compensation to the families, they still refuse to allow aid to be delivered this way.

Over the past two weeks, two small boats from the 2018 Freedom Flotilla have crossed the Mediterranean from Palermo in Sicily in a further attempt to bring much-needed medical supplies to Gaza, and to raise international awareness of the predicament of the Palestinian people living there.

The crews and passengers on both vessels are from many countries around the world and include humanitarian campaigners, doctors, politicians, trades union leaders. journalists and ordinary citizens who are deeply concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people. The mission began back in May and has stopped en route at over 25 ports between Scandinavia and the Western Mediterranean. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) is an entirely peaceful initiative, and all those taking part are committed to non-violent approaches to countering oppression.

The first of the two boats, Al Awda, was seized by the Israeli forces on Sunday 29th July while still in international waters. The 22 crew and passengers on board were arrested and detained in an Israeli prison. Most are still in prison and, although little is known for sure, there are concerns that they may have been subjected to violence. The second boat, the Freedom, is expected to arrive in the area sometime on Thursday.  As with Al Awda, the crew and passengers are from many places around the world, and include British journalist Richard Sudan, who was born and brought up in Crawley.

Crawley Labour Party Executive wholeheartedly supports the Freedom Flotilla’s humanitarian mission to Gaza. We are urging the UK Government to join with other governments, to demand that those still held in custody are released immediately and without harm, and that the Freedom be allowed to continue its mission safely and without interference.


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