News Release

International Civilian Aid Flotilla to “Break the Siege of Gaza”


COLEEN ROWLEY, [now in Istanbul] @ColeenRowley
Rowley is set to sail to Gaza with other human rights activists. She is a retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel, who during a 24-year career, became a whistleblower about problems within the FBI that allowed the 9-11 attacks to occur. She was named one of TIME magazine’s Persons of the Year in 2002. Since 2004, she’s been speaking at academic and other professional venues with an emphasis on ethical decision-making. She studied and strongly supports the rule of law — constitutionally and internationally. A long-time member of Women Against Military Madness and Veterans For Peace, she has publicly opposed war and war crimes for over two decades.

Riesch is also now in Istanbul. He is a former national president of Veterans For Peace. A retired carpenter and building inspector, he has been active in the anti-war movement in the Twin Cities and beyond for over 30 years.

Rowley said today: “As some of us set sail in dangerous waters on a flotilla with food and humanitarian supplies for the starving Palestinians in Gaza because we sadly cannot help but see the faces of our own children and grandchildren in the faces of the babies and children that Israel (with U.S. backing) has already murdered.” Rowley also warns of a wider war.

The International Freedom Flotilla Coalition recently released a statement: “International Civilian Aid Flotilla to Break the Siege of Gaza” that it “will sail in mid April with multiple vessels, carrying 5,500 tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds of international human rights observers to challenge the ongoing illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is an emergency mission as the situation in Gaza is dire, with famine setting in in northern Gaza, and catastrophic hunger present throughout the Gaza Strip as the result of a deliberate policy by the Israeli government to starve the Palestinian people. Time is critical as experts predict that hunger and disease could claim more lives than have been killed in the bombing.

“Getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza is urgent, but it is not sufficient. We must end Israel’s unlawful, deadly blockade as well as Israel’s overall control of Gaza. Allowing Israel to control what and how much humanitarian aid can get to Palestinians in Gaza is like letting the fox manage the henhouse. And yet, this is what the international community of states is allowing by refusing to sanction Israel and defy its genocidal policies in order to ensure that enough aid reaches the trapped, beleaguered and bombarded civilian population.

“The Cyprus maritime corridor, the U.S. floating pier project, and symbolic air drops of food are all distractions from the fact that these methods of aid delivery are insufficient, and still leave Israel in control of what aid can get to the Palestinian people, all while Israel actively prevents thousands of aid trucks from entering Gaza through the land crossings.

“On January 26 the International Court of Justice ruled that, ‘the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.’ On March 28, the ICJ ordered additional preliminary measures, which included requiring the Israeli forces to stop ‘preventing, through any action, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance’ to Palestinians in Gaza.

“Israel has long violated its responsibility as occupying power to ensure the health and wellbeing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Now, it is engaging in full scale genocidal conduct in Gaza and using starvation as a weapon of war. Israeli military and political leaders have repeatedly declared their intention to collectively punish the entire population of Gaza, including by denying them food, water and other life-sustaining aid. We therefore reject Israel’s control over the humanitarian aid that can enter Gaza and reject any Israeli inspection of our cargo. For everyone’s safety and to ensure aid is delivered to those who need it, the FFC is bringing hundreds of international humanitarian observers, from many countries and different backgrounds.”

Media contact for the Flotilla: on X: @GazaFFlotilla — note that videos are available there.