The Zaytouna-Oliva, the Women’s Boat For Gaza is the first all-female flotilla, and consists of 13 women activists from various countries, including Norway, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Israel, the United States and Canada. The flotilla aims to stop the illegal Israeli blockade in Gaza, as well as raise awareness on the role of Palestinian women in the struggle for self-determination, and the uniquely gendered effects of the occupation. Occupants included a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a former Olympian, a European Parliament member, and a retired U.S. Army colonel.
Unfortunately, the boat was never able to make it to Gaza to break the Israeli siege, as the boat was captured by Israeli forces, and all the women aboard were detained. Reports from Israeli outlets made note that the IDF’s female combat soldiers were deployed on the mission to illegally seize and detain the flotilla and its crew.
Yesterday, the last of the 13 activists aboard the all-female flotilla to Gaza were freed from custody, according to a Twitter report from The Women’s Boat To Gaza.
On Wednesday, the activists were escorted to Ashdod by female Israeli combat soldiers just 40 miles off of Gaza. The women were later held in Givon Prison. The Israeli Defense Forces did not release any footage of the takeover on Wednesday.
In addition, the Navy cut off the boat’s communication prior to takeover, making it impossible for an Al-Jazeera correspondent who was also on board to broadcast live.
However, IDF stated that the takeover was quick with no casualties, and had to happen by force because the women would not willingly sail to Ashdod.
Earlier that afternoon, the Women’s Boat to Gaza confirmed that they had lost communication with the boat via Twitter. On Thursday morning, the twitter feed @GazaFFlotilla stated that they were unaware of what happened to the flotilla’s passengers, and that their lawyers were restricted from seeing them.
Waging Nonviolence reported that all 13 women were released yesterday, and their physical safety is confirmed.
Photo credit: @GazaFFlotilla via Twitter