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Gaza-Bound Flotilla III Expected to Dock in the Palestinian Enclave at Dawn; Israel Threatens to Stop it

The Gaza-bound Marianne in 170 miles away from the Palestinian enclave and is expected to dock at dawn. Photo credit: @rumboagaza on Twitter

The Gaza-bound Marianne in 170 miles away from the Palestinian enclave and is expected to dock at dawn. Photo credit: @rumboagaza on Twitter

The Freedom Flotilla is about 170 miles away from Gaza and is expected to dock at the besieged Palestinian enclave at dawn. It may not be smooth sailing as Israel prepares to “take over” the boats.

The flotilla, the third attempt to break the siege on Gaza, is made up of the Marianne of Gothenburg and three other boats following slowly behind, and carries a total of 50 activists, including former Tunisian Prime Minister Moncef Marzouki. This journey marks the fifth anniversary of the Israeli raid on the MV Mavi Marmara in which nine activists were killed and 10 Israeli soldiers injured.

Check out our Special Coverage of the Israel Flotilla Raid 2010

The Marianne of Gothenburg, jointly acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, which left its home port of Sweden on May 10, was the first of three vessels to leave in an attempt to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. In a press release published on May 10, the Marianne of Gothenburg group declared that it “will join other ships to form ‘Freedom Flotilla III’, a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

On Twitter, many are tweeting support under the hashtags #SaveFlotilla3 and its Arabic translation. But it doesn't seem that it will be smooth sailing for the flotilla.

Dr. Belal Dabour from Gaza warns that the next few hours will be decisive:

Dr. Ramy Abdu reports three boats, which identified themselves as Israeli military, are tailing the Marianne:

Jason Shawa announces that communication with the Marianne has been lost.

And Dr. Dabour confirms:

However, others are rallying support to thwart Israel from attacking the flotilla:

And Muhammad Usman shares a photograph of Palestinian children waiting in anticipation of the flotilla:

Also from Gaza, Najla offers a prayer:

There are many activities planned in Gaza in anticipation of the Freedom Flotilla's arrival such as the “Gaza Ark Exhibition“, an exhibition of Palestinian products hoped to be exported by the Freedom Flotilla III. In a formal statement, dated June 5, they explained:

When Gaza's Ark was destroyed during last year’s attack on Gaza by Israel, we all lost a boat intended to break the blockade “from the inside out”. But our goal of helping to build a sovereign Palestinian economy based on freedom of movement has not changed. Palestinian products from both Gaza and the West Bank were to be exported not only as a symbolic stimulus to the Palestinian economy but to show the world the industrious work of craftspeople and farmers who continue to struggle against the overwhelming odds of occupation, economic strangulation and war.

Sameera Qarmout, from one of the producers’ organizations at the exhibit, expressed her hopes that she would be able to sell her goods this time:

Before it was attacked, we had the hope that our embroideries would be exported aboard Gaza's Ark. The coming Freedom Flotilla III has given us a light of new hope that our products will still be made available to world markets.

The exhibit includes goods from Palestinian producers in Gaza as well as goods from West Bank producers that reached Gaza in spite of the Israeli Occupier’s restrictions: embroidery, wood carvings and olive oil.

There have been several attempts to break the siege on Gaza between 2008 and 2010 and the boats have had such participants as 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan, Palestinian Legislative Council member Mustafa Barghouti, Irish peace activist Caoimhe Butterly, US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, author Alice Walker, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein as well as international journalists and doctors and several EU parliamentarians from a variety of political parties.

This attempt will mark five years since Israel's deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. The raid resulted in the death of nine activists from the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH). Some of the current flotilla's members, such as Kevin Knish, were on the Mavi Marmara.

The coalition is updating about its whereabouts through its Twitter account and Facebook page as well as on their official website. You can also follow our updates on Global Voices Checkdesk.

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