[News] Crew of all-women Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza kidnapped by Israeli forces
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
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
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
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
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
However, organizers decided to keep the Amal solidarity ship for use in
later campaigns centered on ending Israel’s devastating siege on the
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.
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