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Breaking the siege of Gaza

Amelia Murphy-Beaudoin

October 5, 2012

In 2008, a group of 44 people sailed two dilapidated boats to Gaza to break Israel’s illegal siege, and were the first international boats to dock in Gaza’s port since 1967. Now, a riveting account of that first voyage of the Free Gaza Movement has been published.
Freedom Sailors is a powerful record of the expedition—from the conception of the idea, through two years of organizing internationally, to the voyage itself. The book’s 24 authors document this struggle through their first-hand experiences.
Co-editor Greta Berlin launched the book in Canada at an event that also marked the International Day of Action for Gaza Fishers and Farmers, as called by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine.
Berlin is a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement and she’s touring Canada now. At the Toronto book launch on September 28, with passion and humour she shared pieces of the compelling story—how 44 determined people on two ramshackle boats chipped away at Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.
She described the ups and downs in the two years it took to build the project and how a diverse group of passengers, crew, and journalists aged 22 to 81, with love and conviction gave themselves to the project of bringing a message of solidarity and hope to Gaza, and succeeded.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians waited on the shores to greet them. They completed the voyage four more times before the Israeli navy rammed their boat in international waters.
That first successful voyage allowed people to see possibility. It began with an idea and it inspired a vibrant international movement. The Gaza Freedom Flotillas have forced the media to tell the world about the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza, one that keeps more than 1.5 million people in an open-air prison.
All proceeds from Freedom Sailors will go to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and Gaza’s Ark, a new international project that will attempt to break the siege of Gaza, this time from the inside—with a boat being constructed by Palestinians in Gaza. In the spring of 2013 a crew of internationals and Palestinians will sail it out to challenge the blockade that prevents Palestinians from sailing from their shores to fish or export. The boat will carry Palestinian products to fulfill international trade deals.
Today, the Finnish-flagged tall ship Estelle, is sailing as part of the third Freedom Flotilla seeking to break the siege.
To follow the Estelle, and learn more about Gaza’s Ark, visit
To purchase Freedom Sailors visit


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