Nelson Mandela's grandson to join Gaza flotilla as it prepares to sail

Nelson Mandela's grandson to join Gaza flotilla as it prepares to sail
The Freedom Flotilla said it would depart on Friday from Istanbul and head to Gaza to deliver lifesaving aid and break Israel's siege on the war-torn enclave.
3 min read
25 April, 2024
Activists onboard the Freedom Flotilla will attempt to deliver aid to Gaza's shore, despite warnings from Israel's authorities [TNA special]

A flotilla of boats, organised by dozens of activists including Nelson Mandela's grandson and loaded with tons of lifesaving aid, is set to sail to Gaza on Friday.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) said its boats are ready to depart, having completed all technical and crew requirements. The vessel will carry hundreds of volunteers, including human rights observers, tasked with delivering over 5,000 tons of food and medical aid to Palestinians in the war-torn enclave.

"We are working diligently to move our boats to a port in Istanbul where the paperwork procedures for hundreds of participants can be completed, to allow for boarding beginning on Friday morning," the coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.

The boats, currently docked in Istanbul, will carry some 800 people from over 40 nations, ranging from Indonesia and the US to Hawaii and Argentina.

It includes US army veterans, doctors, human rights lawyers, and the grandson of Nelson Mandela Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela.

Speaking on the FFC's TikTok page, South African politician Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela said: "We have finally got through to set sail and we are looking forward to breaking the siege and breaking the blockade on Gaza and ensuring that Palestinians and civil society in particular receives this humanitarian aid."

Dozens of boats from more than 40 countries, including Norway, will attempt to breach Israel's severe sea, land, and air blockade on Gaza, which has severely restricted aid supplies to the conflict-stricken Strip.

The FFC has named their mission 'For the Children of Gaza' to highlight the disastrous consequence of the war on children, who make up around half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population.

Thousands of children are among the more than 34,000 people killed and 74,000 injured by Israel’s brutal war since October. UN agencies have declared a humanitarian disaster and famine levels are expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

Oxfam recently reported that almost the entire population is experiencing extreme hunger, with those in the north the most destitute, surviving on just 245 calories a day.

The expedition recalls a 2010 attempt by Turkish activists to deliver aid to Gaza by sea, which turned into chaos when the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara, was intercepted and armed Israeli commanders opened fire, killing nine activists.

Some participants of the current expedition also took part in the 2010 flotilla. They remain undeterred by threats from Israeli authorities, who have reportedly stated that they will push the boats away from Gaza's coast.

In a statement on Wednesday, US human rights lawyer and FFC steering committee member Huwaida Arraf urged the international community to disassociate from Israel's siege on Gaza.

"We call on the governments of the 40 countries represented on the Freedom Flotilla to uphold their obligations under international law and demand that Israel guarantee the flotilla safe passage to Gaza."