A flotilla made up of a Canadian and an Irish ship is en route to Palestine, to break the siege on Gaza, it emerged today. The covert operation was being kept under wraps and has just been announced. On Twitter, the news is being circulated under the hashtag #Freedomwaves.
The Canadian ship named Tahrir and the Irish Saoirse are said to be in international waters, in the Mediterranean Sea, with plans to sail to Gaza in a few hours.
A previous attempt to break the siege on Gaza last year [See Global Voices’ Special Coverage on the incident here] had ended with a clash when Israeli naval forces seized a flotilla of six ships carrying international activists, known as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, who were planning to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and deliver humanitarian supplies.
According to Israeli sources, their forces boarded the flotilla after it had declined to change its course to the port of Ashdod, where Israel had promised to inspect the aid and deliver non-banned items to Gaza. Between 9 and 16 passengers of the Comoros-flagged MV Mavi Marmara were reported killed by Israeli soldiers who landed on the ship, 10 Israeli soldiers were seriously injured.
According to Ruqayah:
@iRevolt: ‘Freedom Waves for Gaza’ is the 11th attempt by int'l activists to deliver humanitarian aid through the Israeli blockade of Gaza since 2008.
On the new flotilla, Canada Boat to Gaza announces:
CanadaBoatGaza: CONFIRMED: The Tahrir is now in international waters and is headed to Gaza soon. #FreedomWaves #Canada4Gaza #DeOccupyPalestine
Asa Winstanley notes:
@AsaWinstanley: Keeping #freedomwaves a secret until today was smart. Undercuts Israeli ability to sabotage & spread disinformation, as happened last time
Information is also emerging about reporters onboard the flotillas. Egyptian Sarah Carr reports:
@Sarahcarr: My badass boss @linaattalah is on the Tahrir, one of two boats that make up the Freedomwaves flotilla en route to Gaza.
And Ahmed Shihab Eldin adds:
@ASE: #AlJazeera has a reporter on one of the #freedomwaves ships headed for Gaza. More to come.
Twitter users onboard the ships are also making their presence known. Hassan Ghani, a Press TV reporter, tweets:
@hassan_ghani: I'm onboard the Tahrir, one of two #flotilla boats now in international waters on their way to break the siege of Gaza. #freedomwaves
@hassan_ghani: #freedomwaves boats left secretly from Turkish shores to avoid political interference. But marine authorities reduced passengers to 12 each
@hassan_ghani: Internet connection on the #Tahrir is intermittent but I hope to be sending a report out later tonight on the #freedomwaves mission
While Egyptian Lina Attalah, with Al Masry Al Youm, tells us:
@Linaarralah: we just reached international waters aboard of the canada boat to #gaza #freedomwaves @almasryalyoum_e #tahrir @CanadaBoatGaza
Stay tuned for more coverage from the flotilla as more information emerges.