[News] Crew of all-women Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza kidnapped by Israeli forces

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 5 14:16:25 EDT 2016


*Crew of all-women Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza reportedly detained 
by Israeli forces*

Oct. 5, 2016  - http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=773433

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The all-women solidarity ship “Zaytouna” has 
reportedly been intercepted by Israeli naval forces while on its way to 
the besieged Gaza Strip, with the crew members reportedly detained, 
according to live updates released by the group on social media.

SOS video messages were released by the Freedom Flotilla group 
<https://wbg.freedomflotilla.org/sos-video-messages-from-zaytouna> after 
the all women crew members were reportedly intercepted and taken by 
Israeli forces en route to the shores of Gaza.

Shortly before the release of the videos, Al Jazeera reported that the 
activists were expected to be detained and taken to Israeli ports, then 
deported.

As the solidarity ship, whose name means "olives" in Arabic, reached 
less than 70 nautical miles from the shores of Gaza, inside Israel’s 
unilaterally declared buffer zone or “military exclusion zone,” the 
Freedom Flotilla coalition released a statement calling on “governments, 
public officials and people of conscience to support publicly the right 
of unimpeded passage for peaceful civilian navigation, and the physical 
integrity of the crew and participants on board, and to support full 
freedom of movement for all peoples, in particular the Palestinians of 
Gaza.”

Shortly after, activists lost contact with the ship, leading them to 
believe the ship was intercepted by Israeli naval forces. However, they 
regained contact with the ship about an hour later.

Some 20 minutes after regaining contact, the Freedom Flotilla posted a 
video on Twitter of Israeli naval forces leaving Israel’s Ashdod port to 
intercept the ship. Activists again lost contact with the ship and 
released a statement claiming that the ship was under attack, adding 
that they received “reports” that the ship was surrounded by Israeli 
naval forces.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat 
condemned on Wednesday evening the Israeli takeover of the Zaytouna.

“We strongly condemn the Israeli aggression against today’s 
international Flotilla that attempted to break the illegal Israeli siege 
over 1.8 million people in Gaza,” Erekat said in a statement. “We call 
upon the occupying power to immediately release them, as well as on 
their countries, including Spain, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Canada and 
the United States, to do everything possible in order to prevent Israel 
from violating the rights of their citizens.”

“The Palestinian cause for freedom and independence is a universal quest 
for justice embraced by millions worldwide,” Erekat added. “The flotilla 
is a humble yet significant reminder that it is time to turn statements 
into concrete actions.”

The Zaytouna was expected to arrive in the besieged Gaza Strip on 
Wednesday evening after setting off from the shores of Barcelona, Spain 
last month as part of the larger Freedom Flotilla.

Issam Yusif, head of the world popular committee for the support of the 
Gaza Strip, said in a statement in August 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772564> that the initiative 
would help to highlight the Palestinian struggle for freedom and an 
independent state, as well as the everyday Israeli violations of 
international law and the Palestinian right to freedom of movement.

He also expressed hope that the initiative would help to end the 
increasingly “tragic situation” of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, as 
the needs of the Gazan people continue to multiply despite the little 
aid they receive.

The Freedom Flotilla initially consisted of another solidarity ship 
called “Amal” -- meaning “hope” in Arabic -- but according to the 
committee the Amal ship did not participate in the solidarity mission 
after facing "unforeseen circumstances" that were out of the control of 
the organizers.

However, organizers decided to keep the Amal solidarity ship for use in 
later campaigns centered on ending Israel’s devastating siege on the 
Gaza Strip.

The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade since 
2007, when Hamas was elected to rule the territory. Residents of Gaza 
suffer from high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as the 
consequences of three devastating wars with Israel since 2008, most 
recently in the summer of 2014.

The 51-day Israeli offensive, termed “Operation Protective Edge” by 
Israeli authorities, resulted in the killings of at least 1,462 
Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the UN.

The flotilla is the fourth of its kind since 2010, when the first 
Freedom Flotilla was brutally attacked by Israeli naval forces 
<https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771700>, who killed ten 
Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara ship.

No Israelis were ever charged for the killings on the Mavi Marmara, 
despite a case being filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) 
charging Israeli officials with war crimes.

An agreement in June between Israel and Turkey 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772013>, which reportedly 
included a commitment by Turkey to pass a law voiding all old lawsuits 
against the Israeli soldiers who participated in the raid on the aid 
flotilla, ended six years of diplomatic strife following the attack.

The UN has said that the besieged Palestinian territory could become 
"uninhabitable" by 2020, as its 1.8 million residents remain in dire 
poverty due to the Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy, while 
continuing to experience the widespread destruction wrought by three 
Israeli military offenses, and the slow-paced reconstruction efforts 
aimed at rebuilding homes for some 75,000 Palestinians who remain 
displaced following the last Israeli assault in 2014.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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