// Entry #19
With open arms, the people of Gaza patiently wait for the Freedom Flotilla to reach the shores of the besieged Gaza Strip. Although technical difficulties, life-threatening sabotages, and an unclear naval blockade mimicking Israel’s very own continue to delay the humanitarian mission’s progress, Gaza’s residents remain hopeful that this symbolic gesture of solidarity will go on without further trouble.
Just yesterday, children taking part in a summer camp in Beit Hanoun just north of Gaza rallied with international activists against the ban imposed by Greek authorities to prevent the fleet of ships from setting sail. The children waved the flags of all the countries represented in this year’s Flotilla and called for the safe passage of the ships through international waters to the shores of the Gaza Strip. At present, this is the only publicized demonstration featuring Gaza’s support of the Flotilla since the fleet assembled in Greece, but the people are following every unfolding detail and express frustration at not having yet welcomed the Flotilla to Gaza.
Gaza City’s main port features a newly-built marble and stone monument commemorating the nine Turkish nationals killed in international waters last year when Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara. Turkish flags stand as tall and wave as vigorously as Palestinian flags. The port is closed to visitors during the work-week but both the young and old generations find time to visit the monument to honor the international activist community that continues to support Palestinian calls for self-determination and fundamental human rights. Another monument is likely to be in store for the coming Flotilla, but hopefully not to commemorate casualties.
Anticipation is steadily growing in Gaza. The day that the Flotilla is due to arrive, there will be a mass gathering at the port’s landing site. The government in the Gaza Strip is expected to host festivities and celebrations all along that region of the coast. Onlookers will most likely witness action from the Israeli Navy unless Israel is pressured to stand down and allow this non-threatening fleet of ships to dock safely.
With the Flotilla scheduled to set forth on Monday, the Gazan people will once again hold their breath and pray for the safe passage of these international activists and will continue to wait patiently but eagerly for the siege to be broken once and for all. I am excited to be able to join them on Gaza’s beautiful shores.