Istanbul, Turkey — A “freedom convoy for Palestine” is on its method from Istanbul to a United States navy base in southern Turkey in solidarity with the individuals of Gaza as Israel wages warfare on the besieged enclave.
Vehicles and vans displaying Palestinian and a few Turkish flags departed from Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Friday morning and headed to town of Adana, the place the Incirlik Air Base is positioned.
The Humanitarian Reduction Basis (IHH), the Turkish non-profit that organised the occasion, stated lots of of automobiles have been driving in direction of Turkey’s capital, Ankara, on Friday afternoon with many extra protesters anticipated to affix because the convoy stops in cities alongside the best way, masking almost 1,000km (620 miles).
Convoys departing from three different Turkish cities – Kahramanmaras, Kayseri and Van – have been additionally anticipated on Sunday to achieve Adana, the place the demonstrators plan to encircle the Incirlik Air Base to protest towards US assist for Israel and to name for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The US and Turkish air forces are the first customers of the airbase, which has been used to fly fight missions over Iraq through the first Gulf Warfare and launch air strikes on Afghanistan. The bottom has additionally been utilized by the US-led coalition preventing ISIL (ISIS).
A white bus with a banner that learn “Freedom convoy for Palestine” stood out amongst dozens of automobiles that set off from Istanbul, joined by native pro-Palestine teams and a few worldwide activists.
Protesters, together with households with kids, gathered in a big parking zone the place they held placards with slogans resembling “We’re all Palestinian” and “You may’t be silent.”
“Individuals have been very enthusiastic to go to the American airbase,” Mary Annette Wright, a 77-year-old retired US military colonel and former US diplomat who was on the demonstration, informed Al Jazeera.
Turkey has taken a agency place essential of Israel’s actions. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan known as off a visit to Israel in late October over what he described as an “inhumane” warfare on Gaza. Addressing a big pro-Palestinian rally final week, Erdogan additionally known as Israel an “occupier”.
Wright, who resigned from her submit over the warfare in Iraq in 2003, is a part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, a solidarity motion that has launched a number of campaigns to lift consciousness and problem Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which has now lasted greater than 16 years and has been tightened right into a “complete siege” for the reason that warfare started on October 7, that means Israel has stopped deliveries of meals, gasoline, water and medical provides.
“[There are] individuals from Canada, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Spain, Italy, Malaysia, South Africa [in the convoy headed to Adana],” Wright stated.
The NGO behind the convoy is without doubt one of the major organisers of the 2010 “Gaza freedom flotilla”, an try by six civilian ships, together with the flagship Mavi Marmara, to interrupt Israel’s blockade and convey help into Gaza.
Ten activists died in an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, which carried principally Turks, inflicting a rift in Turkey-Israel relations that the 2 sides had solely not too long ago began to fix.
“In 2018, I used to be chargeable for a ship from Norway to Palestine,” stated Norwegian sociologist Gerd von der Lippe, who joined the convoy, referring to a different flotilla that headed to Gaza that 12 months.
“At the moment, I stayed in an Israeli jail alongside 22 different individuals. I’m pleased and proud to be part of the work finished for Gaza.”
“Anybody who has some humanity ought to be a part of this convoy,” Mustafa Ozbek, a spokesperson for the IHH, informed Al Jazeera because the convoy made its option to Ankara.
“We’re driving down the freeway proper now, and we anticipate to be joined by extra individuals in Ankara,” he added. “Individuals from totally different nations have joined as effectively.”
Individuals in Turkey have been protesting in giant numbers towards the warfare in Gaza because it started.
The warfare has to this point killed greater than 9,000 Palestinians as Israel conducts a steady air bombardment on the enclave and pushes ahead with a floor assault within the northern a part of Gaza. Extra kids have died in Gaza for the reason that warfare started than in all conflicts world wide in every of the previous 4 years, in accordance with the charity Save the Kids. Greater than 1,400 individuals in Israel have misplaced their lives, principally in October 7 assaults by Hamas on southern Israel, which started the warfare.
“We’re heartbroken due to what is occurring in Gaza,” protester Yusuf Gungor stated. “Our brothers and sisters have to know that they don’t seem to be alone.”