Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Image from the deck of the Marianne of Gothenburg ship, which was intercepted by the Israeli Navy overnight. (Photo courtesy of Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

Image from the deck of the Marianne of Gothenburg ship, which was captured by the Israeli Navy overnight. (Photo courtesy of Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

After Freedom Flotilla Kidnapped by Israeli Navy, Global Campaign Vows to Sail Again

Global supporters still have not heard from the 18 people aboard the Marianne of Gothenburg, captured early Monday morning en route to Gaza

Sarah Lazare

A freedom flotilla sailing to break the blockade of Gaza was captured early Monday morning by the Israeli navy and the 18 journalists, campaigners, and crew aboard are currently in the occupying army's custody, in an attack global supporters are calling piracy and kidnapping at high sea.

David Heap, spokesperson for the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition, told Common Dreams that supporters lost contact with the ship—the Marianne of Gothenburg—at approximately 5:00 AM Gaza time when it was roughly 100 nautical miles from the strip. The coalition still has not spoken with any of the people detained and does not have any information about their well-being.

Israeli authorities claimed they intercepted the vessel without incident, but the global coalition says there is reason to be skeptical of this claim.

"We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was 'uneventful,' because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the 'Estelle' were badly tasered and beaten with clubs," said the coalition in a statement released Monday. "Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters."

Stop!

We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit news service. All of our content is free to you - no subscriptions; no ads. We are funded by donations from our readers.

Our critical Mid-Year fundraiser is going very slowly - only 1,334 readers have contributed so far. We must meet our goal before we can end this fundraising campaign and get back to focusing on what we do best.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, we need you now.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to our Mid-Year Fundraiser now!

Whatever the details of the seizure, Heap emphasized that "it's an act of kidnapping to take international citizens from international waters to a country not of their choice against their will." The Israeli military's action, moreover, raises concerns that "the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean," the coalition said.

The Marianne originated in Sweden but carried people from around the world, including Tunisia, Spain, Morocco, and New Zealand. It was part of a global effort, under the banner of Freedom Flotilla III, that embarked from Greek ports Saturday in an effort to break the Israeli siege of Gaza—which is politically and financially backed by the United States and enabled by the active participation of Egypt.

In addition to the Marianne, the initiative included the supporting vessels Rachel, Vittorio, and Juliano II, and altogether the vessels carried 47 people from 17 countries.

"While the Flotilla bears much-needed aid, our main cargo is, as always, human solidarity and non-violent direct action for the respect of human rights," said Freedom Flotilla III in a statement.

The effort was supported by people around the world and followed numerous other attempts to sail against the siege of Gaza, in solidarity with the 1.8 million people living there—roughly half of whom are children. One of the most densely populated places on earth, Gaza faces an escalating humanitarian crisis due to the blockade, which has made it nearly impossible to rebuild destroyed infrastructure—from hospitals to refugee shelters to schools—after Israel's 50-day military assault last summer.

"While our attention is on our friends and colleagues on the boats, our goal is to stand with our civil society partners in Gaza," said Heap. "Our purpose is to bring the attention of the world to the inhumane blockade. Our thoughts are with the people waiting for us on the shore and waiting for the world to demand the end to this blockade."

The three boats accompanying the Marianne have turned around and are now en route to Greek ports. But Heap emphasized that this development is just temporary: "We will sail again."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bloodbath': At Least 6 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mass Shooting at Illinois July 4th Parade

"What freedom do we have if we fear being gunned down at a parade?" asked one progressive politician horrified by the reported carnage.

Brett Wilkins ·


On This July 4th, Abortion Rights Movement Says 'We're Not in the Mood for Fireworks'

"If we don’t have the ability to make decisions about if, when, and how to grow our families—we don't have freedom."

Brett Wilkins ·


Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy 'Linked Directly to Climate Change'

At least seven people were killed when a glacier slid down a mountainside near a popular climbing route in the Alps on Sunday.

Julia Conley ·


'Organized Whitewash': US Claims Israeli Military's Murder of Journalist Not Intentional

"The odds that those responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh will be held to account are all but nonexistent," said the human rights group B'Tselem in response to findings of U.S. State Department.

Brett Wilkins ·


Hundreds March in Akron Enraged by Police Killing of Jayland Walker

"The police can do whatever they want," said one local resident through tears. "They can take our children's lives and think it's okay."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo