Israeli Military Blocks Female Flotilla From Reaching Gaza

Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams, October 05, 2016

Group including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire aimed ‘to highlight the vital role women play not only in the resistance movement, but in the survival of the Palestinian people as a whole’

Map shows the path the boat took through the Mediterranean before it was stopped by the Israeli military. (Image: Women’s Boat to Gaza)

The Israeli navy on Wednesday stopped a boat carrying international female activists, preventing them from breaking the blockade of Gaza.

Among the 13 people on board the Women’s Boat to Gaza, a mission of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition, were Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Ireland, retired U.S. army colonel Ann Wright, New Zealand politician Marama Davidson, and Malaysian doctor Fauziah Hasan.

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SOS Women’s Boat to Gaza – Contact Lost

miki_photo_zo

At 15:58 CEST (Central European Summer Time) on 5 October, we lost contact again with the Zaytouna-Oliva and presume that the Israeli Occupation Navy has surrounded it in International Waters (latest recorded position: Lat+31.906033 Lon+33.757630) and has forced it off its course to Gaza. On board are 13 women, including Mairead Maguire, the 1976 Nobel peace laureate from Northern Ireland, Fauziah Hasan, a doctor from Malaysia, and retired US army colonel Ann Wright. Take action to protect them now – see below! Details of all of the participants are here.

SOS messages from the Zaytouna-Oliva: please scroll down to read about how to take action now!


See all of the SOS messages from participants here.

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PHROC Welcomes the Launch of Women’s Boat to Gaza

Al-Haq, 26 September 2016

ZAYTOUNAThe Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) expresses its full supportof the Women’s Boat to Gaza, with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, to break the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip. PHROC calls upon the international community to support the voyage of the Boat until it reaches Gaza’s shores in an expression of solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip andin rejection of the illegal and inhumane closure imposed on the Strip for over 10 years. Theclosure  constitutes a form of collective punishment, in violation of international humanitarian law, and rises to the level ofa crime against humanity that should be terminated and thus its perpetrators should be prosecuted.

According to availableinformation, the Women’s Boat to Gaza Campaign, comprised of Al-Amal and Al-Zaituna ships, launchedon Friday, 23 September 2016, from Messina port in Italy towards the Gaza Strip. The female activists on board announced they were sailing towards the Gaza Strip with a message of peace the elimination of injustice, and solidarity with the besieged Palestinian people. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition consistsof a group of international organizations that support the Palestinian people’s right tofreedom and ending the Israeli occupation. The Coalition organized this voyage in which a group of female activists and public figures, including Nobel Peace Laureates, from around 20 countries, participated to end the inhumane closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.

PHROC welcomes the Freedom Flotilla initiative which coincides with the tenth anniversary of the closure’s imposition. Furthermore PHROC believes this action is important in the face of  international silence over Israel’s continued violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.. PHROC also appreciates the international solidarity expressed by the Campaign.

PHROC calls upon civil society organizations and all Arab and international solidarity campaigns to support the safe arrival of the Women’sBoat to the Gaza shore to break the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip imposed for more than 10 years. PHROC further calls on states and international organizations to ensure that Israeli authorities respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and guarantee the safety and security of the boat and its passengers.

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Zaytouna-Oliva departs for Gaza

Amal-Hope II to follow soon

Women’s Boat to Gaza, Messina, Italy, September 27, 2016

This morning at 9:50 am, women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here.

miki_photo_zo Photo: Freedom Flotilla Italia.

When asked why they are going, the women gave a variety of responses. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate from Ireland, notes that “they say that ‘silence is golden’, but regarding the plight of Palestinians in Gaza the silence of the world, especially concerning their little children, shows a lack of moral and ethical leadership from the international community. Why has it lasted so long?”

For two of the women, their countries’ own historical struggles for human rights played an important role in their decision to join the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Leigh-Ann Naidoo, an Olympic volleyball player from South Africa, feels that “South Africans understand the importance of international solidarity in fighting regimes that practice segregation.” Marama Davidson, a Maori Member of Parliament from New Zealand, carries with her a strong personal connection to Palestinian women in Gaza. “As an indigenous woman myself, I want to stand alongside the women of Gaza and to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.”

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Zaytouna-Oliva leaves Corsica for Italy

Women’s Boat to Gaza, September 20, 2016

Ajaccio, Corsica, France: The Women’s Boat to Gaza (Zaytouna-Oliva) left the port of Ajaccio at 09:30 this morning. It is due to arrive later this week in Messina, Sicily, Italy, where it will dock for the last time, prior to sailing to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza.

One of the participants aboard, Lisa Gay Hamilton said: “It is an honor to be here and join this extraordinary group of women. This issue is bigger than me, than any of us. As a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, I cannot help thinking of Palestinian women in Gaza, who live in an open-air prison because of the occupation. It is so painful to think of them, we have to take action to end the blockade of Gaza.” A full list of the participants on this leg is available at: https://wbg.freedomflotilla.org/participants

Renè Abu Joub, spokesperson and one of the local organisers in Messina said: “We are very pleased to host the women on Zaytouna-Oliva before they embark on this historic voyage.” During their stay in Messina, all of the women will participate in non-violence training, whilst finalising supplies and equipment for the boat.

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Gaza-bound flotilla sails off from Spain’s Barcelona

International activists on two boats carrying food and medicine aim to break Israeli siege on Palestinian territory

Al Jazeera, 15 Sep 2016

Two boats, Amal and Zaytouna, will have 11 women on board each [Courtesy: Rumbo a Gaza]

A new flotilla of international activists has left for the Gaza Strip from the Spanish city of Barcelona, hoping to break a nearly decade-long Israeli blockade.

Two sailing boats, Amal and Zaytouna, with 11 women on board each, sailed off on Wednesday evening under the banner “The Women’s Boat to Gaza”.

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Barcelona Hosts Women’s Boat to Gaza for their inaugural journey

Women’s Boat to Gaza, September 12, 2016

Barcelona, Spain – From September 12-14, the sailing vessels Amal-Hope and Zaytouna-Oliva will moor at Bosch i Alsina dock in the port of Barcelona where various events (concerts, talks, nonviolent workshops, a street parade and visits to the boats) will take place as farewell for the women leaving to break the blockade on Gaza.
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According to Laura Arau, with Rumba a Gaza, Spain’s WBG partner, the launch point from Barcelona has special meaning for the community there. “We have been a sister city with Gaza since 1998, yet we have been unable to visit with one another,” she says. “We want our sisters in Gaza to know they are not forgotten and that with these boats and women, we are sending to them our message of hope, love and solidarity.”

The boats will depart on September 14th to Ajaccio, France and then travel through another Western Mediterranean port before reaching the shores of Gaza in early October. For the Barcelona-Ajaccio leg, the passenger lists include Malin Björk, a Member of European Parliament from Sweden; Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli who currently lives in Spain and Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the invasion of Iraq. The women participants, who differ for each leg of the journey, represent over 15 countries across six continents. However, as Chamberlain Regev, who chairs WBG’s steering committee, explains “While we come from very different cultural and professional backgrounds, we all share a common bond. We find the blockade of Gaza and the occupation of Palestine absolutely unacceptable. And as long as governments continue to ignore this political-humanitarian crisis, we, as global citizens of goodwill, have no choice but to continue our efforts to break this inhumane blockade.”

For a schedule of program activities Barcelona, visit here.

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I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel

The country must be held accountable for its human rights abuses.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace
The Washington Post, June 24, 2016

In 2009, I was living in Tel Aviv during Operation Cast Lead. During that offensive, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. When small numbers of us went out into the streets to protest the war, we were often pelted with eggs or attacked by passersby. When I dropped my children off at their preschool, parents chatted as if nothing unusual was going on. When they asked me what was wrong, I would tell them I was deeply upset about what was happening just 40 miles away. Their response: awkward silence, or an angry defense of Israel’s actions.

The Old City walls of Jerusalem (EPA/JIM HOLLANDER)

I wanted to take concrete action to bring about freedom and full rights for Palestinians. So I embraced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The non-violent effort, started in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations, is a call for solidarity from the international community until Israel complies with international law and ends its violations of Palestinian rights. It’s hard going though — the governor of my own state, New York, recently condemned BDS in a unilateral executive order.

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