On July 11, 1947, a ship carrying more than 4,000 Jews sailed from the south of France and headed to Palestine. The Zionist movement endeavoring to create the State of Israel as a home for the Jews sought to “break the embargo imposed by Great Britain on immigration to Palestine.”
On July 18, British naval forces intercepted the ship and boarded it in international waters off the coast of Palestine. A clash ensued with the immigrants on board resulting in three deaths with more than 30 wounded. Britain faced worldwide condemnation for having used excessive force in dealing with the ship’s passengers.
The ship’s name was Exodus 1947, and it became the symbol of Jewish Aliya Bet. The international outrage forced the British to change their policy and in September 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. With the departure of the last contingent of British forces from Palestine on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel.
On May 30, 2010, more than 500 Palestinian activists and sympathizers sailed from Turkey aboard the Mavi Marmara ship as part of the “Free Gaza Flotilla” in an effort to “break the siege imposed by Israel on Gaza.”
On May 31, the Israeli Navy intercepted the ship, which was then boarded by Israeli commandoes. The clash that ensued resulted in the death of more than a dozen activists and approximately thirty wounded. Israel is facing worldwide condemnation for having used excessive force, and Palestinians and their supporters are vowing to continue the flotilla effort until the Gaza siege is lifted.
Will the Mavi Marmara end up having the same historical significance to Palestinians as did the Exodus 1947 for Jews? Only time will tell.
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