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Flotilla exposes Canada's role in illegal Gaza blockade

Amelia Murphy-Beaudoin

February 21, 2012

The Freedom Flotilla II consisted of ten ships carrying 1000 activists from 20 different countries. The Canadian boat–the Tahrir–attempted to sail from Greece to Gaza in June 2011, but was foiled when Israel blackmailed the Greek government to stop the boat in exchange for promises of friendship and an economic boost.

The Tahrir attempted to break the siege on Gaza again in November 2011, and Tahrir delegates Ehab Lotayef and David Heap were on board the boat when it was seized by the Israeli military in international waters. In February 2012 they completed a week-long speaking tour across Canada addressing Canada’s role and it’s complicity in the illegal blockade of Gaza, and highlighting the demand that Canada put pressure on Israel to return the boat and its contents, which includes $30,000 in medical aid.

“Israel has never found, or even claimed to have found, anything dangerous or prohibited on the Tahrir” said Lotayef, “Even according to Israel’s own arbitrary list of blockaded items, our vessel and its contents should be allowed to reach Gaza without delay. Yet this theft is added to the countless reckless actions for which Israel is being granted impunity by the Harper Tories.”

The Harper government’s nonchalance towards its citizens on the Tahrir being illegally captured in international waters is just one more example on a long list of ways it is aligning itself with Israel and its apartheid policies. Canada defunded KAIROS because of its participation in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, and Harper stated that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. During the invasion of Gaza, the Harper government launched a brutal public campaign attacking Gaza solidarity demonstrators as anti-Semites. British MP George Galloway was banned from Canada because of his support for Palestinians. Canada denounced the UN Goldstone Report that revealed war crimes committed during the Gaza invasion.

Just as we continue to call out Israel on its human rights abuses and violations of international law, we must continue to expose the Canadian government for condoning apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

For more information on the Canadian flotilla, visit


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