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“Freedom Flotilla” expedition aborted

Photo: Yasin Akgul Agence France-Presse The organizers of the “Freedom Flotilla” had hoped since Sunday to set sail from Istanbul, Turkey.

Michel Saba – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Published at 6:40 p.m.

  • Middle East

The expedition of the “Freedom Flotilla”, this humanitarian mission aimed at delivering aid to Gaza by sea in which five Canadians, including four Quebecers, took part, was ultimately aborted. But it is only a postponement, we assure you.

“Like the other times, [Israel has] aborted at the last minute,” announced Friday to The Canadian Press Dr. Nimâ Machouf, a well-known epidemiologist and member of the flotilla.

Guinea-Bissau, a West African country whose two of the three ships were flying the flag, told the organizers “that we will let you sail if you don't go to Gaza”, she said.

From Istanbul, Turkey, where the group had been hoping to set sail since Sunday, Ms. Machouf explained that day by day new “excuses” were being given to them for delaying departure, including that additional inspections were necessary although all was already in order.

According to her, Israel has “no intention of letting Palestine live” and behaves like “pirates of the sea” by applying pressure on governments in order to hinder the journey as with the Freedom Flotillas of recent years.

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More than 500 people, mainly humanitarians from nearly 40 countries around the world, were to take part in this mission aimed at breaking the Israeli blockade and transporting 5,500 tonnes of food and medical supplies to Gaza. this population. They argued that hindering their mission is illegal under international law.

Faced with this other failure, the organizers intend to approach other countries to sail under their flag, which should take some time.

Rather than hanging around, the Canadian members will return to Canada. It was “reluctantly”, said Jean-Pierre Roy-Valdebenito, a nurse from Quebec, who was also preparing to participate in the mission.

< p>“We’re starting to decant,” he said shortly after the decision was made. It’s disappointment and there’s a little anger, but we’re determined. Unfortunately, it is as if we accept that it is part of the general problem which is that of the influence that Israel has on many States. »

“Lack of political courage”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evaded a journalist's question on Friday asking whether Canada has contacts with Israel to ensure the security of their shipment.

Mr. Trudeau, who took part in a press conference in Bromont, in Estrie, instead affirmed that Ottawa is “pushing very hard on Israel” so that more humanitarian aid is sent to the occupied territory which is , he admitted, “on the verge of famine, […] in an absolutely deplorable situation.”

This response denotes a “lack of political courage” and is “like” Mr. Trudeau who “says very, very general things” when answering a “very simple and precise” question, lamented Dr. Machouf, who was previously a candidate for the New Party democratic.

In a letter sent on Tuesday notably to Mr. Trudeau, to his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, and to the Prime Minister of Quebec, François Legault, the members of the “Canadian-Quebec” delegation implored them to do what was necessary to protect them.

Avoiding the question, Mr. Trudeau reiterated, as he has done for months, that Canada is pleading for a cease-fire, and that Hamas must lay down its arms and release the hostages.< /p>

“We need to create the conditions to have peace, stability and a two-state solution with a “secure” State of Israel and a “secure” Palestinian State to the future”, he continued.

These are “nice words”, added Mr. Roy-Valdebenito, but they bring “nothing concrete”, not to mention that the Prime Minister continues to present the situation as a war while “it is a situation of military occupation […] which is carrying out massacres, which is destroying significant infrastructure, which causes massive population movements.”

Minister Joly indicated Wednesday in an interview with a regional Radio-Canada station that she would follow up with the organizers of the “flotilla”, but the latter say they are still waiting for the phone call.

Ms. Machouf said that another letter was sent to the minister on Friday to request a meeting. “At the beginning, we asked him for the protection of Canada […], but now, what we are going to ask him is to directly support the mission because it is really in line with Canadian policy […] and to put pressure on Israel to stop putting obstacles in the way of this kind of mission,” she said.

On the diplomatic front, Egypt says it sent a delegation to Israel on Friday in the hope of negotiating a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. Cairo also warned that a possible Israeli offensive focused on the Gaza town of Rafah could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, about two-thirds of them children and women.

Israel has triggered a military operation following a Hamas raid in early October in which Hamas militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took some 250 hostages.

– With the Associated Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116