Israeli media is reporting that the Israeli Navy has peaceably intercepted the so-called “Women’s Boat to Gaza” that been underway to Gaza in yet another attempt to breach Israeli’s maritime blockade. According to the Jerusalem Post report:
October 5, 2015 A flotilla carrying 13 woman, which was bound for Gaza was intercepted by the Israeli Navy late Wednesday afternoon.
The Zaytouna-Olivia, which set sail from Barcelona in September was seized by the Israeli Navy around 35 nautical miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip and towed to the Ashdod port with out incident the IDF said in a statement. The all-female ‘Women’s Boat to Gaza,’ is part of larger movement of pro-Palestinian boats that periodically set sail to Gaza in an attempt to break the maritime blockade. There were no reported casualties or injuries.
Among the 13 woman on the boat were 1976 Nobel peace laureate from Northern Ireland Mairead Maguire and retired US army colonel Ann Wright.
In a statement the IDF said they took over the boat after it became clear that the flotilla did not intend to willingly sail to the port of Ashdod, ‘The takeover process was short and without casualties,’ the IDF stated.
The Woman’s Boat to Gaza said that they lost contact with the flotilla at 3:58 p.m. and called on supporters to contact Israeli and international government officials to demand a release of the activists and ‘an end to the illegal blockade.’
The IDF was preparing to escort the all-female flotilla ship to the Ashdod Port Wednesday morning, as the vessel was expected to attempt to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of the Strip on Wednesday night.
Zohar Regev an Israeli activist living in Barcelona and coordinator of the Women’s flotilla told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday before the boat was intercepted that. ‘The Israeli government is making the same mistake again stopping international peace activists in water that is not Israeli water and stopping people that are not aiming to harm Israelis in any way and just trying to bring a message of hope and solidarity to Gaza,’ she stated.
The Israeli government has repeatedly stated that lifting the blockade will allow Hamas militants to smuggle weapons and convert imported materials into weapons and rockets. Hamas and other factions have fired approximately 11,000 rockets at Israel since 2007, according to the IDF.
Yesh Atid MK Yair Lapid criticized the women’s flotilla on his Twitter account for protesting the maritime blockade while a rocket from Gaza landed in the Israeli city of Sderot Wednesday morning. ‘What is the height of hypocrisy? A flotilla ‘to free’ Gaza, while from Gaza they are firing rockets at innocent civilians,’ Lapid remarked.
Likud MK Anat Berko accused the flotilla of being linked to Hamas but presenting a false ‘facade of civil society,’ in a Facebook post.
Read the rest here.
The Post had reported in September that the flotilla organizers had included known European Hamas activists Zaher Birawi and Mazen Kahel, who have also been involved with other flotillas. Iranian Press TV yesterday featured a statement by Birawi. In March, the GMBDW reported on plans for the Women’s Boat to Gaza.
Other GMBDW reporting on the various Gaza flotillas has included:
- In January 2011, the GMBDW editor published a report titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla” that documented the role of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Turkish government in the first, June 2010 Gaza flotilla that was involved in a violent altercation with Israeli naval forces.
- In June 2011, we cited the report by analyst Ehud Rosen who documented the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood ties of the unsuccessful 2nd Gaza flotilla
- In March 2015, the GMBDW reported on the third Gaza flotilla whose Global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas sponsorship was documented in a later post. As we reported in June of that year, this third effort was also a failure as the lead ship was denied access to Gaza and was diverted to an Israeli port by Israeli naval forces.