The Freedom Flotilla III is preparing to set sail to the Gaza Strip in an attempt to break the Israeli illegal siege of the strip. At least three pro-Palestinian ships waving Swedish flags, which are part of the pro-Gaza Norwegian and Swedish group Freedom Flotilla coalition, are now in the south of Italy in Sicily. The activists said Thursday that they aimed to reach Gaza by the end of June.
“Our aim is to end the siege of Gaza. We want the Palestinians to know that we haven’t forgotten about them,” activist Kalle Ohlsson told Al-Jazeera. “There are many crises in the world, but the situation in Gaza is also really bad, and we do remember them.”
She added that the flotilla's main objective was not to bring aid, but to open Gaza's port to the outside world.
This marks the third attempt to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza by the Swedish Ship to Gaza group, which owns the ships. The first flotilla in 2010 was boarded by Israeli troops who killed nine unarmed people, including seven Turkish citizens.
The second attempt was turned back by the Israeli navy in October 2012.
The group said in May that one of the ships would be carrying modest medical materials and solar banners that they hoped to deliver to the fuel-poor population in Gaza.
In a press release on Wednesday, the Swedish group said that the ships' crew would undergo a non-violence training amid concerns about the Israeli reaction to their attempt to break the Gaza blockade.
“We’re very concerned about safety. We have a strict non-violence policy. We’re hoping Israel won't use violence against us,” Ohlsson said.
Organizers also said that the final departure point and information on the reset of the boats involved in the mission are being kept secret in order to avoid sabotage.
Activists also argued that Israel had no logical reason for stopping their peaceful boats that are carrying medical supplies.
“I’m hoping that the Israelis actually understand that it would create a lot of more goodwill for them if they actually let the boats through, because there’s no reason for them not to do that. It’s counter-productive in the end. I think they’ve totally lost common sense here, because really it’s not a threat to bring in medical equipment, to bring in medicine, to bring in solar panels,” said Swedish journalist and writer Kajsa Ekis Ekman, who will be on board one of the flotilla's ships, the Marianne, sailing to Gaza.