Gaza Flotillas

Organized by an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement, the Gaza Flotillas are groups of boats that sail to the Gaza Strip with the goal of breaking the Gaza blockade, bringing in humanitarian aid and construction materials, and raising awareness about the illegality (based on international law) and humanitarian effects of the siege. Since August 2008, nine flotillas have set out for Gaza, often carrying politicians, journalists, and celebrities alongside international activists. On May 31, 2010, Israeli naval commandos boarded four Gaza-bound flotilla boats and ensuing clashes on one boat led to the deaths of nine Turkish flotilla passengers (one of whom was also a U.S. citizen), in addition to the arrests of hundreds more. Israel stated that it had a right to stop the flotilla from entering Israeli-controlled waters and that the commandos responded violently only after being attacked by the activists. The Free Gaza Movement reproached Israel for boarding the boats in international waters and subsequent investigations by the United Nations and the Turkish government questioned Israel’s proportionate use of force against the activists. The Free Gaza Movement continued to organize and send flotillas after the 2010 incident. See "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the [no-lexicon]Israeli[/no-lexicon] attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance," United Nations Human Rights Council, September 27, and "Israeli convoy raid: What went wrong?" Paul Reynolds, BBC, June 2, 2010. See also the Free Gaza Movement’s website.

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