A New Flotilla Steams Towards Gaza

Elizabeth Murray is aboard a new flotilla to highlight the illegality of the 12-year old blockade that is choking the people of Gaza.

By Elizabeth Murray Special to Consortium News

Aboard the Al Awda

Islands Brygge,” an idyllic harbor park that stretches along the east bank of Copenhagen, was alive with a celebratory crowd on Monday as three ships were about to steam towards Gaza. The 2018 Freedom Flotilla—two ships from Sweden and one from Norway — will call at ports in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy before traveling through the Mediterranean Sea to its final destination: Gaza harbor.

Volunteer boat guides explained the history and mission of the Gaza Flotilla movement, which has organized a number of journeys to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Gaza and break the illegal economic siege. An independent U.N. panel 

Al Awda (The Return): Ship Murray is sailing on to Gaza. (Photo: Elizabeth Murray).

and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) say the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions and is illegal.

Israel dragged the last Israeli settlers from Gaza and withdrew the Israeli Defense Force in 2005. When the Palestinian Authority lost a 2006 election in Gaza to Hamas, Israel imposed the illegal blockade. A considerable number of young Danish people learned about Gaza for the first time and walked away with new political awareness of the injustices suffered by Gaza’s children, who are denied the same carefree life enjoyed by Danish children.

The upbeat music and offerings of traditional Palestinian falafel wraps washed down with Danish beer created a festive atmosphere at the Freedom Flotilla tent Passerby lined up to buy ‘Boat to Gaza’ T-shirts, Palestinian kaffiyehs (traditional checkered scarves) while a Palestinian musician strummed the oud (traditional Palestinian lute) and sang a song of sentimental love for his Palestinian homeland. A local Palestinian man danced and waved the Palestinian flag while the crowd clapped along.

I feel proud and privileged to join a group of international passengers aboard the Norwegian ship “Al Awda,” (“The Return” in Arabic) as we prepared to embark on the first leg of our journey. Along our route we hope to raise awareness and educate people about the plight of Palestinians, especially in Gaza, who are denied the basic freedoms and human rights the rest of us take for granted.

Earlier this month as Gazans held The Great March of Return to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (or the Catastrophe) — in which 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly driven from their land and homes by Israel in 1948 — Israeli snipers cut down peaceful demonstrators one by one, killing hundreds and maiming thousands, generating shock and outrage around the world and providing further incentive for people to support the burgeoning Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

Targeting Athletes

Murray: Boarding her boat to Gaza.

Israel seems to have reserved a special brand of sadism for Gaza’s athletes — several promising young cyclists and soccer players have become amputees, since Israel refused to allow them to leave Gaza to obtain the necessary medical attention that would have saved their legs. Reports of such heinous acts — documented widely in social media posts by those on the ground in Gaza — have served to further isolate Israel internationally and alienate peace-loving people around the world, who deplore the moral depravity of its government.

Reaching the harbor of Gaza (which means “jewel” in Arabic) should be as simple and straightforward as entering any harbor in Germany, France or Spain. But instead, Israel has denied Gazans use of their own harbor for commerce, trade and travel, and has bombed it on numerous occasions, along with their electric power plants and sewage systems, making life miserable for the local population and rendering 97 percent of the drinking water toxic.

As the Freedom Flotilla embarks on its peace odyssey, it is our hope to bring a light of hope and solidarity to the people of Gaza, who deserve the peaceful, dignified and joyful existence that is their right.

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

63 comments for “A New Flotilla Steams Towards Gaza

  1. Doug Campbell
    May 28, 2018 at 21:51

    It is too bad we don’t have a flotilla to Gaza sailing down the Mississippi River informing the heartland of the United States what’s happening to the Palestinian people. After 70 years of subjugation, it’s time to counter the Zionist propaganda most Americans receive daily in the news media.

  2. HK
    May 26, 2018 at 13:12

    Perhaps the author and her supporters might urge Denmark to give political refuge to the remaining ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. Certainly they wouldn’t cause any problems.

    Palestinian supporters might consider asking what Palestinians can do to change the status quo instead of constantly threatening to annihilate Israel.

    • May 27, 2018 at 14:21

      Would love to see how understanding you would be should someone invade your home and steal your land..of course you have God on your side so its not the same

    • Oakland Pete
      May 30, 2018 at 18:00

      Perhaps… I’ve got another perhaps for you, HK: Perhaps Israel and the U.S. should stop supporting ISIS. Since you seem to live in an alternate universe, I should inform you that the PLO recognized Israel decades ago. The point of what’s happening there is not that anyone is threatening to annihilate Israel, but that Israel is annihilating Palestine. I attended a demonstration at the Israeli consulate last year in which zionists held signs reading “Gaza must be destroyed”. I’ve also attended ANSWER rallies across from SF city hall, where zionists, protected by the police, held signs reading “Gas the Arabs”. The reference is obviously to a new holocaust. You might have the U.S. establishment with you, but the rest of the world understands who is advocating or committing genocide in the mideast, and it’s not the Palestinians.

  3. Dennis
    May 26, 2018 at 12:33

    I feel ashamed I was not there as a resident of Copenhagen to cheer you on. It is sad, and somehow, pathetic, what Israel does to their #1 citizens, the Palestinians. If Europe was ashamed enough by what happened to the Jews in Europe, it is outrageous for it to be happening again, the abused, abusing another, the legacy of all abusers. I know you will suffer for your choice. I cringe in my cowardice, to not accompany you. Still may the oceans and the winds surge you forward. I am nothing still I bless your mission, and wish the benefits you bring will let the Palestinians know so many of us support their cause.
    Dennis xo

  4. Deborah
    May 25, 2018 at 17:23

    I understand that very recently another area of Palestine is to be newly occupied by Israeli settlers. I am deeply, deeply troubled by all you mention as well. Have you considered having Israeli’s who do not support the actions of their government to join you on the flotilla? It seems to me that we have a very similar situation in the U.S., and not at all for the first time: our government violating international law. Every President of the U.S. in recent history has violated international law.

    In fact, the U.S. government is complicit in all the harm brought to the Palestinians, providing weapons and enormous amounts of money as well as political support at the U.N. Perhaps some U.S. citizens should join you as well?

    Thank you for creating the Flotilla. It is essential that the world stand up to both Israel and the U.S. in these matters.

  5. May 25, 2018 at 16:58

    I have seen videos of them shooting with fervor. Youtube has removed the most abhorent videos of Israeli war crimes and the disgusting actions of settlers. They are shutting down the evidence.

    What is to be done? The world watches in horror as our leaders send them money and arms.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 30, 2018 at 17:52

      Linda, in answer to your Q: Support the International Solidarity Movement. They are on the ground in Palestine, supporting local activists and filming demonstrations. They work together with Bet’Salem (I know I misspelled that, and my apologies) and their work discourages the IDF and settlers from at least some of their most heinous acts. It’s not nearly enough, but it makes some difference. I’ve seen some of the videos, sent my son who made them (so proud!) and more are available on the ISM website.

  6. May 25, 2018 at 13:37

    With all my heart, I hope you get to Gaza.
    How can I help on your purpose?

  7. robin
    May 24, 2018 at 09:16

    Consortium News readers , SHARE the article wide.
    This must be known by decent people, fighting for peace in Palestine . Knowledge might stop Israeli aggression against the Flotilla.
    Let God protect you from Israeli terrorists , Elizabeth .
    Who knows , how long will it take to get to Palestine ?

  8. Baldrick
    May 23, 2018 at 22:07

    Every country must protect its citizens and its own vessels from attack or seizure on the high seas, with a naval escort if necessary.
    Which Nordic navy, descendents of the Vikings, is prepared to face down an illegal attack on this flotilla, as it has the support of the UN and every other country except Israel and its puppet, the USA, to stop such High Seas piracy?
    Remember how the Somali pirates were stopped?

    • Panopticon
      May 24, 2018 at 01:32

      Well said Baldrick A flotilla of destroyers from each of the Nordic nations could notify Israel that it is an armed humanitarian mission to the Palestinian Nation via international waters to its coast, and is doing what USA does when it sends a huge Carrier Group through the South China Sea despite China’s objections, and is prepared to defend itself.
      Lets see if the Israelis attack it like the Mari Marvara, or the worse attack on the Unarmed USS Liberty, including machine gunning survivors in the water, with LBJ refusing to allow a US fighter jet to protect it, the details supressed for decades

  9. PeggyForPeace
    May 23, 2018 at 21:50

    Thank you Elizabeth for this well written article. It is an honor to know you and others on this voyage. Will liok forward to additional articles.

  10. Margaret Watson
    May 23, 2018 at 17:59

    God bless ?

    • Manrah
      May 25, 2018 at 13:41

      God bless those who fight against injustice, land grabbing and murderers of innocent women and children! Amen.

  11. May 23, 2018 at 17:12

    May 20, 2018
    Murdered and Maimed By a “Moral Army”


    • kntlt
      May 24, 2018 at 11:55

      The “most moral army.”

  12. May 23, 2018 at 17:10

    A politician in Canada sounds off on Gaza. See link below.
    No need for inquiry into Gaza violence, Tory MP says
    By Rachel Gilmore. Published on May 23, 2018 3:34pm

  13. john prudden
    May 23, 2018 at 16:36

    It all sounds nice enough. But didn’t Israel intercept, in international waters, a similar flotilla and manage to kill a bunch of people? I would be armed and ready to fight in international waters and, if stopped, within the blockade, comply.

    Good luck

  14. Jeff
    May 23, 2018 at 13:45

    Another Quixotic tilting against windmills. I sympathize with the flotilla but the US will protect Israel and the rest of the world will turn a blind eye. The UN is less than useless these days and does nothing to enforce the high minded ideals on rogue states like Israel and the US.

  15. Berna
    May 23, 2018 at 12:54

    No mention of the fact that Egypt has also imposed restrictions on Gaza? I wonder why that is?

    • Tony Litwinko
      May 23, 2018 at 16:45

      Because Egypt is the third largest recipient of US foreign and military aid after Israel, and clearly has done the bidding of the US. (The first in line is Afghanistan, in which our troops are still deployed.)

  16. Vesuvius
    May 23, 2018 at 12:49

    No matter how much I admire your action, I advice against it. It will bring no positive result; instead, you will probably get killed. The local jailkeepers will stop at nothing. And their next move will likely be another “mowing of the grass”.

    Sorry, that’s the way it is.

    • Tony Litwinko
      May 23, 2018 at 16:48

      That’s the way it is until it is not. You can’t keep trying. Eventually the world community will unite and sanction Israeli government actions. Israel’s violence is just deepening the revulsion of the world community.

  17. F. G. Sanford
    May 23, 2018 at 11:55

    Well, have at it, and good luck. I hope the planners of this exercise have considered maintaining a highly redundant multi-band communication system with a satellite live link to be maintained 24/7. The “Med” may look like a big swimming pool to tourists in Ibiza or Cannes, but it isn’t. Lots of “unexplainable, unfortunate events” still happen. Coastal waters may not seem treacherous, but the “Med” is really deep. The “Hellenic Trench” is 16,896 feet deep, and the “Calypso Deep” is 17,280 feet deep. Lost ships are rarely located or recovered. It would be “anybody’s guess” what happened…if they disappear.

  18. Rick Sterling
    May 23, 2018 at 11:48

    Great to hear about this new campaign!
    Thanks to Elizabeth and the organizers for your persistence and dedication.
    Just what apartheid Israel does not want.

  19. Mathew Neville
    May 23, 2018 at 10:02

    In Gaza, a Palestinian is a Palestinian, whether Muslim or Christian & they have all suffered FOR YEARS under their occupation & oppression by the Israelis.

    During the “Cast Lead” attack on Gaza (27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 Rabbis blew their replica horns that they magically used to bring down the mythical “walls of Jericho ” behind the Israeli front lines to encourage Israeli soldiers to continue the “slaughter” within Gaza that was under siege & was even compared by Professor Norman Filkinstein to the Warsaw Ghetto of WW II.

  20. Darrel Meyers
    May 23, 2018 at 09:30

    God bless and keep you, Nancy and the intrepid passengers of this ship of Mercy and Hope. I’ve been following this venture of ships from its beginnings (even was once asked to think about joining in by one of its first co-producers) and remain incensed by the assaults in international waters in (recent) years past. I will keep you all in my thoughts, my prayers, and my opportunities to speak out. Also, pleased to know you are with VIPS. Kathleen Christison is a friend, and I’ve had the please on several occasions to meet/hear Ray McG, — Rev. Darrel Meyers, Burbank (Friends of Sabeel)

  21. Kalen
    May 23, 2018 at 08:22

    Before embarking on new flotilla may be we see some results of last flotilla attacked on international waters by uniformed thugs or rather pirates killing several. Is there any improvement since then of this abhorrent human tragedy of Gaza camp prisoners?

    What I saw as only medals for Isreali twigs for defending the nation from dilapidated, ought to be scrapped ,ship with bunch of idealistic groupies who pay dearly for conviction of their hearts and their simple humanity.

    When bully state like Israel is encouraged by US and tolerated by EU, Russia and China then the only answer is violence that is why ther have 300 nukes to make such a logical conclusion costly for global ruling elite even if they wanted to do anything about it but they do not.

    However strange it may sound Palestinian suffering is a prime product of capitalism which commodities human lives snaps the price tag on anyone of us and than get insurance or hedge is you sell ourselves too high.

    Palestinian life is so cheap these days. Practically free.

    • Sam F
      May 23, 2018 at 10:03

      If the flotilla people can get the support of a nuclear power like UK or France with a Mediterranean navy to escort them, they will really win. Spain, Italy, or even Norway, Denmark, or Sweden could commit the EU to enforce international law on access to Gaza. But Russia looks like the best chance, as it has the motive to show Israel that it is vulnerable to its own tactic of creating problems on the borders of its neighbors. Let us urge Russia to provide a naval escort for the flotilla to Gaza harbor against all threats by Israel, even if this delays the flotilla.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 23, 2018 at 15:19

      Kalen: Apparently the lives of “idealistic groupies” warrant a cryptic remark as well. I agree with Rick Sterling, and hope for the success of Elizabeth and her fellows. The usual suspects should keep their ridicule to themselves.

      Let’s remember that ILWU Local 10 went out on strike in support of the Mari Marvara when it was attacked. The best of us were out there with them. I hope we don’t have to again, but we will if necessary.

  22. Mary Fishler
    May 23, 2018 at 08:16

    Thank you for doing this Elizabeth Murray. I am with you all in spirit.

  23. Vivian O'Blivion
    May 23, 2018 at 06:10

    So three weeks from now we may get to see Trump’s Middle East “Peace plan”. Composed by Zionists who fund illegal settlements on the occupied West Bank. Oops, that’s right, the State Department doesn’t use the term “occupied” anymore.


    Meanwhile Pompeo has listed provocatively unreasonable demands against Iran, akin to the Austro-Hungarian demands against Serbia that kicked off WW1. Not content with that outrage, Pompeo goes on to claim that Iran is actively assassinating dissidents in Europe. A claim that has even the Iranian dissident groups scratching their heads.

    In what Universe is it acceptable for National Security Advisor, John Bolton to address a conference of Mojahideen-eKhalq? Three National Security Advisors in a little over a year. Two are clinically insane and the third was called “mad dog”.

    Actually, I can see a potential upside to the insanity. America has show itself to such an obvious bad actor in Middle East affairs that continental Europe may be forced to take the role of adult in the room and work with the other global adults to if not resolve the situation, at least hold the temporary peace.

  24. Pft
    May 23, 2018 at 00:42

    Be careful. These are real psychopaths who walk on the dark side. They know they can get away with anything and escape any consequences. Laws dont apply to them.

    • mike k
      May 23, 2018 at 06:57

      Your warning is very real Pft, but what the hell can we do about it? These “leaders” are the cause of our most serious problems, and they are insane. Welcome to Madhouse America!

  25. Realist
    May 22, 2018 at 23:50

    Wasn’t something like this tried a few years ago? I seem to recall that Israel fired on the civilian ships killing several of the activists and preventing them from completing their mission of mercy. Of course, there were no consequences for the murdering Israelis and the world promptly forgot about the outrage. Pretty sure I’m not dreaming this up, but can’t remember the name of the operation or its sponsoring organisation(s).

    • Realist
      May 22, 2018 at 23:56

      Ah, yes, here is the record from


      The reported event occurred in May of 2010.

      “At least 10 people were killed and many injured yesterday, after Israeli troops stormed a flotilla of boats in international waters, carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. It is believed 28 British citizens were on board one of the boats. The Foreign Office says they are not among the dead.

      The six ships, carrying about 10,000 tonnes of aid and up to 700 passengers on six vessels, were warned not to pass an Israeli sea blockade.

      The activists were on their way to Gaza from Cyprus on a mission designed to draw attention to the three-year-old Israeli blockade of the territory. Israel imposed the restrictions after Hamas was elected to power. Israel prohibits travel to and from the narrow strip of land, which is home to one and half million people, bans exports, and restricts the entry of basic goods, including some medicines, food and fuel.”

      Go to site for more.

      • Grady
        May 23, 2018 at 06:50

        US and Turkish dual citizen Furkan Dogan murdered by idf gun shot to the back of the head, unarmed on a ship providing aid to Gaza. Obama’s response to the murder of a US citizen? Israel has a right to defend itself.

    • Deniz
      May 23, 2018 at 00:36

      It was easy for Israel to kill Turks and ignore Erdogan. Killing Northern Europeans is an entirely different matter; it would be an epic public relations disaster for Bibi. Perhaps the Zionist will work through the protestors governments to arrest their citizens.

      • Joe Wallace
        May 26, 2018 at 23:09


        I’d like to believe you’re right, but if I’m not mistaken, Israel’s killing of one young Turkish-American during its assault on the flotilla in May 2010 did not provoke much outrage on the part of the U.S. government.

  26. Brady
    May 22, 2018 at 22:28

    Participants on the flotilla are heroic and brave beyond belief after the illegal attacks on previous flotillas carrying such dangerous and threatening things like potable drinking water, food, and medicine. The horror.
    US citizens have been murdered before by idf.
    Looking forward to a report on a successful outcome!!!

  27. May 22, 2018 at 21:53

    Another article of interest at link below
    Palestinian leaders refer Israel to ICC for war crimes

    Palestinian representative says ‘further delaying justice for Palestinian victims is tantamount to denial of justice’
    MEE and agencies
    Tuesday 22 May 2018 12:41 UTC
    Last update:
    Tuesday 22 May 2018 20:38 UTC

  28. May 22, 2018 at 21:28

    Article of interest at link below.
    Among the Persians
    Iranians want to be friends with Americans but Israel hates the idea
    PHILIP GIRALDI • MAY 22, 2018


  29. Joe Tedesky
    May 22, 2018 at 21:26

    Be nice if hung from one of the 3 ships was a huge sign saying, ‘REMEMBER the USS LIBERTY’. Just a thought.

    • Sam F
      May 22, 2018 at 21:55

      Good idea, the US mass media would have to cut that. Maybe paint it on so the IDF cannot pull it down.

    • John
      May 23, 2018 at 15:13

      Brilliant. I like it.

  30. May 22, 2018 at 21:16

    I can only offer my admiration for the people who organized and are part of the group travelling to Gaza. The world cannot have enough Elizabeth Murray’s and the Rachel Corrie’s. For those who care to look, there are organizations that stand with the Gazans and their numbers are growing. CN is making its own contribution, and as with all important movements, they need the intellectual energy that CN and others provide.

  31. May 22, 2018 at 20:57

    Fantastic to hear of the Freedom Flotilla, and Godspeed to all of you for this inspiring journey! Please keep us updated.

  32. May 22, 2018 at 20:49

    I have deep and total respect for everyone involved in this flotilla and particularly those risking their lives by actually being on the boats themselves. That take some serious courage given Israel’s murderous attack on the last flotilla. If only the oh so humanitarian West were as concerned for the safety and human rights of the innocents in Gaza as in dominating the entire planet through their U.S. led, illegal, immoral, regime change interventions and wars throughout the Middle East. We’d have quite a different planet if Western Europe and her former colonies were to show any actual real world concern for “human rights” rather than simply using the phrase as a cloak for their militarism.

  33. chucknobomb
    May 22, 2018 at 20:11

    Israel is a Terrorist nation, with Nukes.

  34. Sam F
    May 22, 2018 at 19:51

    Bravo Elizabeth Murray and cheers to the VIPS for this courageous expedition!
    This is the most courageous and best-designed humanitarian expedition we have seen in years.

    Please arrange for an escort by the navy or coast guard of Spain, Italy, Algeria, Turkey, or another sympathetic nation. Perhaps even Russia, which has an expanded naval presence there, and may wish to make a humanitarian statement about Israel. One of the humanitarian organizations rescuing refugees from Libya may also be able to provide an escort.

    • incontinent reader
      May 22, 2018 at 23:56


  35. George Baxter
    May 22, 2018 at 18:28

    You may want to revisit your “peaceful protests” misrepresentation and other historical lies and omissions by simply referring to the public statements of your murderous brethren in Gaza, Hamas, who readily admit they were rioters intent on breaching the boundaries of Israel to murder Israelis accompanied by maps of homes and child care centers in which to commit and satisfy their insatiable thirst for violence. 70 years of unrelenting violence by Palestinians and their ignorant left wing supporters such as yourself have gotten then nothing. It has always been their choice of violence over peace, despite all the opportunities afforded them. Engaging in the illegal activity you are makes you complicit with them and supports their violent ways. You and your murderous rioters you praise will never get your way as long as any decent person is alive. Go preach your hatred elsewhere and get a life!

    • mark mcburnett
      May 22, 2018 at 19:36

      George who the hell are you compared to Elizabeth Murray? Your are right about one thing it started 70 yrs ago, lets see that would be 1948 damn the coincidence….

    • Sol Shalom
      May 22, 2018 at 22:18

      Excellent name
      Choicr. Unfortunately you have lost the millennial Jews in the USA and evangelicals will wake up next.

    • dionissis mitropoulos
      May 23, 2018 at 11:39

      Mr Baxter, i’m pretty sure i have responded to all your points here, at the consortium news, with a 5-part comment:


      Meanwhile, do you mind posting evidence for your claim about, i quote you, “Hamas, who readily admit they were rioters intent on breaching the boundaries of Israel to murder Israelis”?

    • JoeD
      May 23, 2018 at 12:07

      You should take your advice, “Go preach your hatred elsewhere and get a life!”

      These were peaceful protests. The Israeli military shot and killed protestors in cold blood. Israel committed war crimes and should be held accountable.

    • Curious
      May 24, 2018 at 02:45

      Mr Baxter,

      “For us, warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another life. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who can not provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity.”
      -Sitting Bull quote-

      You are a colonizer, which is obvious, and tossing out the people indigenous to the land is fine by you. You have the audacity to call the people of Gaza, the open air prison built and controlled by Israel, not somehow thankful enough for the graciousness and humanity of their immoral benefactors.

      Israel, who is a violator of human and international laws, are the better, more humane group in this dispute. It’s quite a reach, even for one who has no empathy, nor ability to understand issues. “70 years of unrelenting violence by Palestinians” trying to protect their own lands and history seems offensive to you.

      If you really want to “get a life”, please re-read the quote above, and then think about those who are actually using live ammunition on protesters. My guess is you agree with the National Guard during the Kent State bloodbath, because these were all long hair hippies students against war, and deserved to get shot. And yet somehow, you say other people are full of hate to try and live life with a bit of dignity? Your argument is amazingly twisted and pathetic.

  36. Tom
    May 22, 2018 at 17:45

    Best wishes!

Comments are closed.