10:09 GMT22 October 2020
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    It’s been more than ten years since the land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip was imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007, and it’s likely going to stay in place until Palestinians get tired of the worsening living conditions and decide to leave, Ann Wright, a participant of the 2018 Freedom Flotilla Coalition, told Sputnik.

    The three ships making up the 2018 voyage to Gaza, dubbed Al-Awda, Falastine and Freedom, are carrying some 40 activists and much-needed medical supplies to the area. The flotilla is expected to arrive at the Gaza coast in approximately 10 days, or during the first week of August. In the past, ships attempting to gain entry into Gaza have repeatedly been turned away.

    Israel opted to impose the blockade in 2007 following Hamas' move to take control of the territory. Per the State of Israel, the blockade is meant to prevent weapons and various other military equipment from falling into the hands of the organization. However, the blockade has also contributed to collective punishment against the roughly 2 million Palestinians, barring them access to proper education, health and sanitation facilities.

    ​Wright told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Thursday that the three ships heading to Gaza are carrying 116 boxes of medical supplies that were requested by the Ministry of Health in Gaza, which has been bombarded with injured persons returning from recent border protests.

    With an estimated 16,000 Palestinians injured or wounded during the Great March of Return, Wright noted that "the medical system in Gaza is on its knees."

    "It's a horrific number of people that have been wounded and injured by the Israelis," she told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "The numbers of amputations that have had to take place on people who've been shot through the legs — targeted in the legs — they're totally out of prosthetic devices, out of crutches."

    "The number of people being targeted for either death or permanent maiming is astounding," she added.

    In May 2010, participants of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition met a deathly fate after Israeli commandos raided the Turkish Mavi Marmara boat and killed 10 activists while injuring dozens more. When the raid took place, all six ships were in international waters, about 80 miles of the Israeli coast, the BBC reported.

    According to Israel, their officers wanted to check that the ships, which were carrying school supplies, building materials and two electricity generators, were not transporting any weapons. What exactly initiated the killings is still disputed between activists and Israeli officials who claim that they were forced to act after being attacked. All those on board were Turkish, minus one who had dual Turkish-US nationality.

    Recalling the raid, Wright told Becker that it showed "that [Israeli officials] were unafraid of using the same type of violence that they use on Palestinians every single day, whether it's in the West Bank or in Gaza."

    "There were over 600 internationals among the six ships of that flotilla from about 40 countries, and Israel didn't care," the former US State Department official said. "They were willing to take the wrath of the international community for their attack on unarmed civilians that were trying to break an illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza. They were willing to take the heat, and, of course, their big protector the United States of America did nothing — nothing at all."

    A United Nations report released in 2015 indicated that the Gaza Strip could become "uninhabitable" by 2020 as a result of ongoing Israeli military operations and the blockade that has devastated its economy and infrastructure.

    "The social, health and security-related ramifications of the high population density and overcrowding are among the factors that may render Gaza unlivable by 2020, if present trends continue," the UN report states. "Reconstruction efforts are extremely slow relative to the magnitude of the devastation, and Gaza's local economy did not have a chance to recover."

    This, Wright told Kiriakou, is what Israel might just be banking on so that they can move on to claim the territory.

    "Gaza will become uninhabitable because of the conditions there, and I believe that is exactly what the state of Israel wants — they want to make Gaza so uninhabitable, that it will force people to say, ‘I have to leave, I can't live here any longer, because we're gonna all die because of the conditions here,'" she said.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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