As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the women’s march to the union buildings, an all-women boat will set-sail for the Gaza Strip in an effort to break the siege through ‘women-power’. In preparation for the departure, the organizers are calling on all South Africans to support the endeavour.
The Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which seeks not only to challenge the Israeli blockade but to show solidarity and bring a message of hope to the people of Palestine.
Representative of WBG, June Dolly, explained that the freedom flotilla coalition was formed following Operation Cast Lead in 2010. Since then, numerous flotillas have unsuccessfully travelled to the besieged territory.
Despite risks, which became increasingly evident in the 2010 attack on the Mavi Marmara in which nine people were killed, the organizers are determined to break the siege.
“As women, we have a very important role within society, but we do acknowledge the risks.”
Seven South African females have been shortlisted to the international group located in Italy, of which Dolly is one.
Dolly said that the mission is a non-violent mission and will, therefore, travel unarmed.
The flotilla is scheduled to set-sail from a European port and will dock at various Mediterranean ports in an effort to spread the word about the mission.
June further explained that the flotilla’s work is vital for informing both South Africans and the broader international community about the occupation of Palestine, particularly the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Following the election win of Hamas in 2006, the Israeli Government imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The blockade includes the control of the economy, the entry of goods, the airspace, and the movement of Gazan citizens, who for years have not been able to leave the territory.
Despite the fact that the Gaza Strip is officially under the leadership of Hamas and that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea grants Gazan’s legal access to a maximum of 12 nautical miles of sea, the Israeli Government continues to control Gazan waters through the blockade.
The Israeli authorities have, subsequently, curtailed any efforts by the international community to break the blockade by sea.
The organizers of the flotilla will now embark on a fundraising initiative in order to facilitate the mission.
Dolly said that the mission is primarily directed toward breaking the siege and is, therefore, not an aid mission, though some aid will be delivered.
“The money that will be fundraised is for the airfare and the boat. We are asking any organization to assist with the fundraising. Please support this mission, since without funding it cannot be successful,” Dolly urged.
Reverend Dolly encouraged South Africans, who have experienced a similar oppression, to educate members of the public about the plight of Palestinians. She further urged community members to understand that the issue of Palestine is not a religious issue, but a humanitarian crisis.
“There is lots of build-up to the departure and no boat has succeeded to break the siege of Gaza. So we pray that it will be broken this time, that the people can have a right to their land once again, and that the people can live in a democracy. Right now it is just inhumane and the world keeps silent,” Dolly concluded.
For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Womensboattogazasouthafrica/.
Alternatively, call: The WBG spokesperson on: 0824762780, the SA international rep on: 0721786102, or Rev. June Dolly on: 0827577368.