Gaza flotilla flagship to return to Istanbul

11:43, December 25, 2010      

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The Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the ill-fated Gaza flotilla attacked by Israel this summer, will return to Istanbul on Sunday.

"This ship was a symbol of conscience, now it is a symbol of freedom," Bulent Yildirim, president of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation which organized the flotilla, briefed a press conference here on Friday about the ship's arrival.

The Mavi Marmara departed from Turkey in May to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza and deliver humanitarian aids. On May 31, Israel raided the ship in international waters before it could reach its destination and killed nine activists aboard.

An arrival ceremony will also be held on Sunday in protest of the Cast Lead, a military operation launched by Israel on Dec. 27, 2008 in Gaza that killed over 1,000 Palestinians, Yildirim added.

The Mavi Marmara will depart from Canakkale, on the southern tip of the Marmara Sea, with the families of the nine killed activists onboard, as well as the 50 original passengers who were wounded in the raid and some supporters.

The ship was handed over to Turkish authorities after the raid for a forensic investigation.

The IHH said that thousands of supporters and activists will participate in Sunday's ceremony, and hundreds of small boats will greet the arrival of the ship.

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