The event was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Among those in attendance were Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev, Israeli Consul General in New York Asaf Shariv, and the Reverend Michael Faulkner of the New Horizon Church, a Christian leader who has long been vocal in his support for Israel.
The True Freedom Flotilla aimed to raise awareness of Shalit's plight. Friday marks the fourth anniversary of his kidnapping by Gaza terrorists. In the time that has passed since, Hamas has not allowed international humanitarian groups to visit Shalit even once.
Organizers chose a flotilla protest in reference to the “free Gaza” flotilla movement launched in an attempt to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza. “Under the guise of a 'freedom flotilla' in the Middle East, organizations that have ties to terrorist groups have sought to create confrontations with the Israel Defense Forces. The real siege in Gaza is against Gilad Shalit,” said Conference of Presidents Chair Alan Solow and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein.
The Conference of Presidents gave a humanitarian aid package for Shalit containing food, books, and glasses to Red Cross representative Rosemary Mackey. Red Cross officials have made repeated requests to Hamas to be allowed to see Shalit, but have been turned down each time.
Photos courtesy of Michael Priest