Israel deports activists on ‘women’s boat’ for Gaza
search

Israel deports activists on ‘women’s boat’ for Gaza

Only one member of most recent flotilla blocked from Strip still remains in Israel, expected to fly home by late Friday evening

Women activists aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat headed for the Gaza Strip sing a song for Gaza. The boat was intercepted on October 5, 2016 by the Israeli Navy and escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod. (Screenshot)
Women activists aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat headed for the Gaza Strip sing a song for Gaza. The boat was intercepted on October 5, 2016 by the Israeli Navy and escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod. (Screenshot)

Israel has deported all but one of a group of women activists who tried to break its security blockade of the Gaza Strip by boat earlier this week, the Interior Ministry said Friday.

A ministry spokeswoman said the last activist would leave the country later in the day.

“All the boat’s passengers have left Israel except a woman who will fly to Oslo this afternoon,” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told AFP.

Thirteen women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, were detained on Wednesday after their sailboat was stopped around 35 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza.

The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September with women of various nationalities. Organizers said among the other women detained were Algerian MP Samira Douaifia, Swedish politician Jeannette Escanilla and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel and State Department official who resigned over the 2003 Iraq war.

Others came from Australia, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and Britain.

Dubbed “Women’s Boat to Gaza,” the vessel was part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Hamas-run Gaza to try to break the blockade.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

On Wednesday, the boat was diverted to the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 18 miles (30 kilometers) north of the Palestinian territory, and the women were taken into custody before being deported.

The interception, in which female Israeli soldiers were deployed, was carried out without violence or resistance, and the boat was brought into the Ashdod port late Wednesday.

The Israel Navy said it stopped the boat to prevent a “breach of the lawful maritime blockade” of the Palestinian enclave and after advising it “numerous times to change course prior to the action.”

In 2010, a Turkish flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara ship was intercepted by IDF naval commandos. The soldiers were attacked as they boarded the Marmara, leading to a melee during which 10 Turkish activists were killed and several Israeli soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously.

While that incident gave Israel a diplomatic black eye and contributed to a deterioration of ties with Turkey, Jerusalem has since apologized as part of reconciliation deal with Ankara ratified this summer.

Israel says its maritime, land and sea blockade of Gaza is aimed at preventing Hamas from receiving weapons and supplies which could be used for military purposes. An Islamist terror group, Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, seeks the destruction of Israel, and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted.

read more:
comments