Two vessels traveling from Norway and Sweden towards Palestine in an effort to break the 11-year Israeli blockade of Gaza arrived in Paris on Sunday.
The French-Palestinian Solidarity Association (AFPS) — the largest French organization supporting the Palestinian cause — called for a demonstration to watch the passing of the two vessels on Paris’s Seine River as French authorities refused to allow the vessels to dock.
President of the Paris-based Arab World Institute, Jack Lang, politicians as well as supporters of the Palestine-cause were among those present at the demonstration.
The protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Free Palestine” slogans.
Activists aboard the vessels waved back at those greeting them from the Parisian shore.
Speaking to the crowd, French lawmaker Eric Coquerel said Israel’s killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza despite a UN resolution is unacceptable.
Earlier this week, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution urging protection for Palestinians.
The resolution had blamed Israel for the recent deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and urged the international community to consider protection for Palestinian civilians.
Coquerel also reacted to the French government’s failure to sanction Israel. He said he was among the crowd to support flotilla.
Peace in the region is not possible without recognizing Palestine as a state, he added.
French Senate member Esther Benbassa said she will continue to protest against Israel’s embargo on Gaza.
The two vessels are expected to reach a port in France’s western city of La Rochelle.
On May 15, a flotilla of boats set sail from Norway and Sweden under the slogan “Right to a Just Future for Palestine”.
The flotilla stops at a number of European ports, including in Denmark, Britain, Italy, Spain and Greece before their last leg to Gaza.
By the end of 2016, a total of 1.3 million Gazans were depending on international aid in order to survive while nearly half of the families in Gaza lacked access to secure food supplies, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Every year for eight years now, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been launching a new campaign to challenge the blockade.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists in the Mavi Marmara boat convoy in international waters. The convoy, which was part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, was headed for Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid. Another activist later succumbed to his injuries.
Source: Anadolu News