Many years ago my mother participated in a Flotilla to break the siege imposed on Iraq. The purpose of the trip was to bring attention to the International community that baby Milk was illegal and not allowed into Iraq. The ship with only women from all over the world was filled with Baby milk and was determined to sail into Basra and bring Milk to the children of Iraq. The ship sailed from Algeria and made stops all over the Mediterranean picking up women activists and head over to the Persian gulf.
My mother volunteered and went as an independent participant not representing any organization or party, simply put a mother that wants to bring Milk to little children. Once the ship arrived in the gulf , the US navy surrounded it and then while the women were protesting on the deck of the ship , the US marines made a landing through helicopters and proceeded to beat them up and tear gas them. Many sustained injuries cuts, broken bones and bruises (my mother was not injured) , the Marines came on board with a single mission: to beat up those women defying the USA and the coalition. One Sudanese women had a baby with her when one of the marines approached her with his baton , she lifted her baby to show him that she had one so he smacked the baby and the little toddler flew and was injured as well , not even a baby is safe from those marines that we are celebrating today as our "protectors of our freedom" whatever that means. The marines proceeded to put all the women in one of the halls on the ship they blocked all windows and did not allow them to go out and left them in the middle of the sea. They had limited supplies of water and food and had to ration and with the windows closed they did not know night from day and had too all sleep on the ground. Mother told me that all they did was sing arabic folk songs and that would enrage the marines and make them more vicious.
The marines ended up looting the ship , stealing whatever cash was in board and anything else they found useful. They called the american peace activists "whores" , "sluts" and "traitors" and were even more cruel with them than the rest. They continued to surround the ship for several weeks at the end they reached a compromise to dump the Milk in Oman and then head to Basra without the supplies. Iran was kind enough to open it's waters for the ship to sail through and they were able to reach Iraq.
The US had threatened to sink the ship had it not been in Iranian waters. We lost contact with mother for 45 days , we thought we would never see her again , and she felt the same. She told me that she was ready to die and that no matter how brutal and violent those marines and navy were she was ready to confront them and defy them. The ship reached Basra and was greeted by thousands of iraqis; a heroes welcome. They appreciated the efforts and sacrifices
and were grateful for those internationals who were trying to make a statement on their behalf. Mother was driven to Amman along with the other women , a day later the bombing and operation Desert storm would start.
Watching the Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla brought back those memories and made me realize how humane the US marines were compared to the Israelis. Had they acted like the Israelis I could have easily lost my mother many years ago. My condolences to the families of those who were murdered today. I hope their blood and sacrifice does not go in vain. My thoughts and prayers are with you , and respect and admiration for those who risk their lives to bring justice to the oppressed.