From the news desk

Women’s only Gaza flotilla launched

Today on International Women’s Day the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) will announce the launch of the Women’s Gaza Boat (WGB) that will set sail later in this year en route to Gaza in hopes of ending the blockade, imposed by Israel, on the Gaza strip.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) is an initiative that was created to break the siege on Gaza and has attempted to do so a number of times in the last decade. So far the flotilla has never been successful in its attempts to do so however, the flotilla ship has continued to sail over the years.

Nabila Ismail, the spokesperson for the WBG, says the first flotilla was launched just after Operation Cast Lead and their attempt was to break the siege on Gaza which has been blockaded by Israel.

“The blockade has effectively left Gaza an open air prison; they (the Gazans) have no control over their air space and sea space,” Ismail explained.

“The Freedom Flotilla attempts to break the siege so that they can deliver supplies to those living within the confines of the strip.”

This will be the fourth boat to sail since the initiative was started and the ship will be crew consisting of women only with a number of notable international women on board. However, Ismail has explained that the names of these delegates cannot be revealed at this time as the logistics surrounding it are still in the process of being organised.

“We know about the Mavi Marmara case where the flotilla was raided and one of our own South Africans that were on board Gadija Davids was taken into incarceration and she was treated despicably,” Ismail went further.

“With that in mind knowing how the Israeli defence force works, this WBG is effectively another attempt to break the siege on Gaza and we know that chances are that they could raid the boat and taken and not allowing them to enter the sea port of Gaza is very high, but the point of this is to show solidarity with the Gazan people and we want to highlight the women’s undeniable contribution to the resistance.”

Ismail says that this flotilla is the first ever of its kind with a women only crew and women being the only people allowed on board the ship when the vessel sets sail for the strip.

“So it’s the first ever of its kind in that everything from start to finish is women, from the planning to coordination including the project initiatives and the crew each position has been filled by a woman; men (who have been and are involved) have only played a secondary role in it,” Ismail continued.

WBG is endorsed by the following organisations: The Women’s Affairs Center (Gaza), The Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel), Forum de Politica Feminista (Spain), Women’s Front (Norway), Coordinadora de Solidaridad Palestina (Mexico), CODEPINK Women for Peace (US) and Fédération des femmes du Québec (Canada).

The boat is set to sail in mid-September or October and no definite date has been set as yet.
“In solidarity with International Women’s Day and knowing that this is a women’s only boat the international community thought that it is appropriate to launch the WGB on this day,” says Ismail.

“So not only will there be a launch in South Africa, but this is an international launch so countries involved in the project will be launching this in their respective countries.”

VOC (Umarah Hartley)

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