Two boats packed with activists, politicians, and artists from around the world have set sail for the Gaza Strip as part of an effort to break a nearly decade-long Israeli blockade. The boats, named Amal and Zaytouna (“hope” and “olive” in Arabic, respectively), set sail on Wednesday from Barcelona, with only women comprising the crew for each vessel.
Among those aboard were Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead MaGuire from Ireland, American screenwriter and playwright Naomi Wallace, and Cigdem Topcuoglu, the professional athlete from Turkey who was on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 when the ship, in the midst of a similar attempt at breaking the blockade, was boarded by Israeli commandos. Topcuoglu’s husband was among 10 activists killed by the Israeli military in the incident.
The Gaza strip has been blockaded by Israel since Hamas took over the territory in 2007 — the area has a population of 1.76 million, 1.24 million of them Palestinian refugees. “For us, as the women of the world, this fight is also important,” said Jaldia Abubakra, an Israeli-born activist who is helping crew the vessels. “It is important to show our rights … to prove that we are able to send ships to the Gaza Strip, to show that we stand in solidarity with women and people in the area.”
The Women’s Boat to Gaza had previously attempted to break the blockade in 2015, only for their ship, the Marianne, to be boarded and redirected by the Israeli navy.
Watch a video below from former Canadian PM Alex Atamanenko made in support of the women’s voyage.
Read the full story at RT.