In the wake of the Gaza attacks that lasted between December 2008 and January 2009 Israeli officials stated they were not allowing humanitarian materials into Gaza. Based on this, the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation applied to Israeli authorities to let the foundation take humanitarian aid to Gaza by land and sea in January 2009. However, the authorities did not respond to the application although it was renewed several times in the same year. Upon deterioration of humanitarian situation in Gaza, the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which has been active in Palestine for years, launched “Set out for Palestine” initiative in January 2010 to break the embargo and bring aid to the people of Gaza. The objective after the accomplishment of the land convoy that included hundreds of vehicles was to break the Gaza blockade from sea with an aid flotilla of nine ships.
The partners of “Palestine Our Destination Humanitarian Aid Our Load” flotilla, whose Turkey leg was coordinated by the IHH, were nongovernmental organizations campaigning for Gaza in different parts of the world such as The Greek Ship to Gaza Campaign, The Swedish Ship to Gaza, The Free Gaza Movement, The International Committee to End the Siege on Gaza, The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG).
The humanitarian aid flotilla aimed to open a new aid corridor to Gaza, which has been under embargo for the past three years and was devastated by the 22-day long Israeli offensive, and its 1.5 million inhabitants, who do not have access to even the most basic necessities. In this way, the movement sought to ease the suffering of the Gaza people living under harsh conditions.
The humanitarian aid flotilla that was carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies, most of them construction materials, aimed to put Gaza, which had long been absent from the international agenda, back on the top of agenda of the international decision-makers and states, and in this way form a strong initiative for the removal of the embargo. The humanitarian supplies brought with the flotilla were going to be used to meet basic needs of Gaza inhabitants, treat patients, and rebuild the schools, hospitals and health centers that had been destroyed in Israeli attacks. Houses were going to be built for the homeless, rehabilitation centers for Gaza residents, and playgrounds for children. To this end, hundreds of humanitarian aid volunteers with different languages, religions, and ethnicities from 36 countries in Latin America, Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Middle East and Far East came together in this flotilla to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“Palestine Our Destination Humanitarian Aid Our Load” flotilla was seen as an important opportunity to avoid new Gaza-like crises in the whole world, particularly in the Middle East, and establish regional and global peace. The international peace ships were hoped to help the Middle East overcome chaos and war atmosphere, bring about rapprochement between regional actors, and give a new impulse to settlement of problems. The movement that included more than 700 activists from 36 countries aimed to give hope to the people of Gaza and eventually lift the embargo, and to contribute to regional peace in particular and world peace in general. However, the humanitarian aid flotilla fell victim to a raid by Israeli government while sailing in international waters in the Mediterranean.