From Kevin Ovenden of Viva Palestina
At 08.50 am today we are awaiting the arrival of the European parliamentarians, who begin to shuttle from Northern Cyprus to our staging ground in international waters to the south of the island where they will board the lead ship. The decision by the Greek Cypriot government not only not to allow the flotilla to harbour there, but also to object to, and twice prevent, the departure of a parliamentary delegation directly by sea to join the convoy is creating something of a scandal in Greece and beyond.
Cyprus recently elected its first ever Communist President, earning him the moniker the Fidel Castro of the Mediterranean. If this recent shabby episode is anything to go by, Akel, the Cypriot Communist Party, would be better served by its previous policy of supporting a left of centre figure for the highest office. The last such president allowed friends of Palestine to muster there.
Five vessels are ready to go – three cargos and two passenger, three Turkish and two that sailed from Athens – one Greek and one Greek-Swedish. They are larger boats and the clear lesson is that for such an operation a few larger and well fitted vessels are more effective than a larger number of smaller boats.
A coalition of organisations and initiatives has come together in this flotilla, but the Turkish IHH has set the standard by raising around 20 million USD and setting about the mission with elan, peerless organisation and a collegiate approach that belies the extent to which they are responsible for the impressive force that is gathered now in the Eastern Mediterranean.
To my mind, the lessons are worth learning now, for whatever the outcome of the next 48 hours, there will be another sea mission to Gaza – and it will need to be even bigger and broader.
A small boat has pulled alongside with the parliamentary delegation. They will now join us on the Mavri Marmara and then it’s all a question of timing:when to start the 18 to 20 hour journey down to Gaza so as to avoid giving the Israeli forces the best conditions to attack us.