Dr Ang Swee Chai on the fortilla

Singaporean documentary maker, Jason Soo among those on board of freedom flotilla intercepted by Israel Defense Forces

Singaporean documentary maker, Jason Soo and Co-Founder and Patron of British charity Medical Aid for Palestinians and widow of Singapore exile Francis Khoo, Dr Ang Swee Chai, were among the 22 multi-national activists on board of the al-Awda (“The Return”) Freedom Flotilla that was intercepted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) yesterday.

According to the Israel Navy, the vessel’s journey was violating the legal naval blockade.

The Navy added that any humanitarian cargo can be transported to Gaza via the port of Ashdod, around 30 kilometres north of Gaza.

Earlier on the same day, Chairman of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza (ICBSG) Zaher Birawi announced that the Freedom Flotilla was already approaching Gaza’s territorial waters.

TOC understands that Soo who was filming on board the ship and was supposed to disembark the ship earlier but for some reasons, he did not.

According to the flotilla activist group, they were warned by the IDF that said the navy would “take all necessary measures” should they persist in sailing into Gaza.

The Swedish-flagged Freedom, which is a second boat from the same group, is expected to follow suit in its arrival at Gaza, according to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

Previously, the Israeli Navy turned away the Zaytouna-Oliva vessel which carried 13 women, including Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Northern Ireland who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, and Malaysian gynaecologist Dr Fauziah Hassan, approximately 35 nautical miles from Gaza shores.

It was believed that the women under the “Women’s Boat to Gaza” group were detained by the Israeli authorities on 5 October 2016, and that the vessel’s course was subsequently diverted by the Israeli Navy.

The Israeli blockades have resulted in a humanitarian crisis in Gaza throughout the past several years.

The IDF, however, justified the blockades as “a necessary and legal security measure that has been recognized repeatedly by the world and the UN as important to the security of the state and its maritime borders that protect Israeli civilians in the face of terror and smuggling of weapons”.

The Norwegian-flagged Al-Awda, which carries humanitarian aid and medical supplies to the Palestinians in Gaza, departed on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, which is “the Arabic word for “catastrophe”, which started in 1948 when 50% of the population of Palestine was driven out to live in refugee camps, and Palestine was erased from the map of the world”, as Dr Ang explained in her letter, published on 9 July.

Dr Ang also wrote in her letter that she had anticipated Al-Awda’s besiege by the IDF, and said that even if the interception did materialise along their journey, she believes that none of their efforts will be in vain:

I am highly honoured to be invited on board. It is important to explain to you why I chose to do this. Among the queries is why I have overstepped my role as a doctor to do this.

My answer is simple. A doctor, a surgeon is a human being with a conscience and a compassionate heart, much more than just a skilled technician. The very fact that I can do operations and fix broken bones will not stop me from losing my humanity.

A robot might turn the other way, but a child of God does not.

Most of you know that I am going to seventy come the end of the year and I would like to make this my birthday present to the people of Gaza and Palestine […] even if Awda is kidnapped and all of us are put in prison, it is not a failed mission.

The Palestinians will know that we have not forgotten them, and that we, like them, live out our lives with hope and love with faithfulness.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has released a call to action regarding the IDF’s interception of Al-Awda:

Israeli Occupation Forces seem likely to illegally attack and board our boat (Al Awda) – 13:15 CEST/29 July 2018. On board are 22 people.

Take action to protect them now – see below!

United Nations
His Excellency Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.un.org/en/contact-us/index.html (write message)
Twitter: @antonioguterres   @UN_Spokesperson


Singapore – Jason Soo
Minister for Foreign Affairs – Dr Vivian BALAKRISHNAN
Email: [email protected]  and  [email protected]
Tel: 1800 4768870 or +65 63798000 or +65 6379 8855
Fax: +65 6474 7885