As the situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire, next week the Women’s Boat to Gaza will travel to the besieged territory. Launched on the 8 march 2016, on International Women’s Day, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition began the initiative in a bid to break the blockade of the Strip and increase international pressure to end the occupation of Palestinian lands. Following its launch, a delegates committee was established that comprised of roughly 10 countries and a few organizations. The final decision of the activist chosen to be on board the flotilla was taken in June, while the journalists chosen to accompany the activists were scheduled to be confirmed at the end of August.
Speaking to VOC, spokesperson for the Women’s Boat Gaza, Zeenat Adam explains that the coalition embarked on the Women’s Boat to Gaza in bid to highlight the role of women within the conflict.
Adam says that women have shown unabated strength and managed to maintain their crumbling family structures after being forced to ‘man’ entire households.
“[The mothers] are continuing to hold together their families where the young men have been arrested and killed in the war. Under siege they are unable to get [access] to basic necessities…the United Nations said that [the Gaza Strip] will be uninhabitable by 2020,” Adam stated.
She further notes that as one of the worst humanitarian crises that the world has witnessed, the situation in the Gaza Strip requires attention and concerted international support.
In keeping with the theme of flotilla, Adam says that boat is to be exclusive to females; from the crew and support staff, to the passengers.
“We have gathered activists from around the world, people who are in very prominent positions. We have MP Meredith Maguire from Ireland, an MP from New Zealand’s Green Party, and various poets and play activists,”
The flotilla will consists of two boats; the Amaal, which means ‘hope’, and the Zaytouna, which means ‘olive’ and is symbolic of extending an olive branch.
The women will sale through the Mediterranean, stopping at various ports to bring attention to the cause.
Adam confirms that the final leg of the journey will extend from Messina, Italy, moving onward to the Gaza Strip.
The origin of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition
Adam explains that the initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition began shortly after the invasions into the Gaza Strip. The most famous initiative that the flotilla embarked on was the Mavi Marmara, which after entering Gazan waters was attacked on May 10, 2010, killing ten activists.
She says that while the Israeli authorities have apologised to Turkish authorities, who had funded the Mavi Marmara, the plight of Palestinians has not been acknowledged or redressed.
“As the freedom flotilla coalition we do not recognise such an apology, because the situation in Gaza has not changed,” she asserted.
Subsequent to the attack on the Mavi Marmara a number of other missions was conducted by the coalition, more notably the Estelle from Finland, which Israeli authorities in recent weeks pledged to release after having confiscated it.
Adam says that in 2012 organizes planned to change their strategy and instead of deploying a boat to travel to the Gaza Strip, would deploy a boat from the Gaza Strip.
However, Operation Protection Edge of 2014, in which more than 2100 Gazan’s were killed, resulted in the dissolution of the project.
“The Israeli’s bombarded the area where we were warehousing the project, so that had to be abandoned.”
Following the derailed project, Adam said that organizes then sought new means to continue in their struggle to break the siege on the imprisoned territory – the Women’s Boat to Gaza.
Given the situation in Palestinian Occupied Territories, Adam urges all South Africans to bring attention to the Women Boat to Gaza as a means to mitigate and eventually end the suffering of the Palestinian peoples.
“We would love to see people pledging on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook holding up posters and bringing attention to the cause,” Adam continued.
Anyone who wishes to be part of the success of the flotilla may contribute toward the activist’s tickets to travel to Barcelona, by visiting https://wbg.freedomflotilla.org/participate