Women's Boat to Gaza: 13 Activists Detained by Israel, Weeks After US Approves $38 Billion in Military Aid
Two journalists from Al Jazeera who were on board Zaytouna-Oliva have been released and have safely reached London and Moscow. The other 11 women of the Women’s Boat to Gaza are still in detention, but we anticipate that they will be deported soon, as they have been moved from Givon Prison to a detention facility at Ben-Gurion airport.
Wendy Goldsmith, a member of the land team working to secure the release of the women stated that, “the deportation is happening much quicker than in previous flotillas. While we had a great legal team assisting the women, we suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception, including the demand of rock band Pink Floyd.” According to early reports from the women released, the Zaytouna-Oliva was surrounded by two warships along with four to five smaller naval boats. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) demanded that the Zaytouna-Oliva stop its course towards Gaza. When the warning was refused, at least seven IOF members, both male and female, boarded our yacht and commandeered it in international waters.
In the course of their capture, the women insisted that Israel’s attack was illegal and that they were being taken against their will to Israel. The Women’s Boat to Gaza campaign asserts that while the captivity of the women on board Zaytouna-Oliva may soon be over, the captivity of 1.9 million Palestinian people in Gaza remains. Whilst the term “peaceful” has been used in some media to describe the attack and capture of our boat, this is inaccurate. Peace is more than merely the absence of physical violence. Oppression, occupation, denial of human rights and taking a boat of unarmed, non-violent women against their will are not peaceful activities. Indeed, as Zaytouna-Oliva approached Palestine, the IOF launched multiple air raids across the Gaza Strip.
The Women’s Boat to Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla Coalition will continue to sail until Palestine is free.
Mediterranean Sea south of Crete (Greece): During a storm a few nights ago, part of the rigging on the Zaytouna-Oliva was damaged by heavy winds. Although the damage was minor and she continued to make good progress for the last few days under motor towards the Greek island of Crete, she still needed her rigging fixed in order to continue the mission.
This morning our friends from Ship to Gaza Greece sent a repair boat which brought a skilled rigging specialist to repair the damage, as well as bringing more fuel and supplies.
According to Madeleine Habib, skipper of Zaytouna-Oliva: “the professionalism of rigger and team that came on board was great. It really meant so much to us! In addition to fuel and other supplies, the boat brought the women Greek desserts, solidarity and friendship.” Zohar Chamberlain Regev, coordinator of the Women’s Boat to Gaza who worked closely with women from Ship to Gaza Greece to arrange the needed repairs, adds: “This immediate response to our boat’s needs is just another example of how much solidarity there is around the world to help break the blockade of Gaza. While there are no Greek women on the boats, their campaign’s concrete solidarity has helped us on this international mission in a vital way.”
The Zaytouna-Oliva is now continuing on her way to break the illega blockade of Gaza, with many thanks to the solidarity and friendship from Greece! She is scheduled to reach the shores of Gaza later this week.
Media contact person: Ellen Huttu Hansson. Phone: +46 722 883 213
Photo credit: Kia Ora Gaza (New Zealand/ Aotearoa).
The following is a compilation from the Captain, crew and participants on the boat.
Wednesday, September 28
We had heavy showers and several women are seasick. There were not many takers of the cous cous salad we had for lunch. But our discomfort at sea pales in comparison to the people of Palestine.
Thursday, September 29
Today has been easier and we are enjoying calm conditions. We are sitting together enjoying the noon sunshine. It is nice to see everyone smiling and finding their sealegs. Women are singing “I am sailing to be near to you”.
Mairead Maguire Nobel Peace Prize winner explains why she joined the women's boat to Gaza. The goals of this mission is to highlight the devastating effects of the brutal blockade of the Palestinian people living in Gaza.
As reported yesterday, the Zaytouna-Oliva has departed Messina with its course set for Gaza. Difficult weather conditions last night caused damage to her rigging. All on board are ok and she continues her course under engine power. Presently, we are considering our options for repair. We want everyone to know that the safety and well-being of all those on board remain our priorities.
Photo from dockside this morning, credit: Freedom Flotilla Italy
Zaytouna-Oliva departs for Gaza
Amal-Hope II to follow soon
For Immediate Release
September 27, 2016
Contacts people: Lucia Intruglio / Wendy Goldsmith
Phone: +39 368 746 8528 / +39 328 718 5648
Messina, Italy: 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.