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2nd humanitarian flotilla to set out from Gaza Tuesday

First flotilla was intercepted, seized in May by Israeli naval forces

2nd humanitarian flotilla to set out from Gaza Tuesday

By Nour Abu Aisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine

A second humanitarian flotilla will set out from Gaza on Tuesday in hopes of breaking Israel’s 11-year blockade of the coastal enclave, a Palestinian NGO has announced.

“The flotilla will set out at 11 a.m. tomorrow [from Gaza] carrying sick and injured Palestinians who have been unable to travel abroad [for medical treatment] as a result of the blockade,” Bassam Manasra, a spokesman for Gaza’s National Committee for Breaking the Siege, said at a Monday press conference in Gaza City.

The “Freedom Boat 2” will be the second humanitarian flotilla to set out from blockaded Gaza since Palestinians first began holding regular rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence on Mar. 30.

“We announced plans to launch another flotilla… more than a month ago and won’t back down from the decision until we meet our objectives,” Manasra said.

He went on to urge local and international officials to provide the flotilla and its Palestinian passengers with protection “from any possible Israeli violations”.

The first flotilla set out from Gaza on May 29 carrying Palestinian medical patients -- many of whom were injured during the rallies -- and university students.

A main boat was accompanied by dozens of smaller vessels in a show of defiance against Israel’s crippling blockade, which has remained in effect for more than a decade.

Israeli naval forces swiftly intercepted and seized the ship, detaining all 17 Palestinian passengers aboard. 

While all detained passengers were subsequently released, the ship’s captain, Suheil Muhammad al-Amoudi, remains in Israeli custody until now.

The Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Since Mar. 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army gunfire -- and thousands more injured -- while taking part in regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and its ongoing blockade of Gaza, which has brought the strip to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.

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