The Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) is due to set sail on September 14, 2016 to reach the shores of Gaza by early October. It will be sailed entirely by an all-women crew and will carry aboard noteworthy participants from around the world such as Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead MacGuire (Northern Ireland), Marama Davidson, Green Party MP (New Zealand), Naomi Wallace, screenwriter and playwright (USA), Gerd von der Lippe, professional athlete and academic (Norway), and Çiğdem Topçuoğlu, professional athlete and coach (Turkey), who sailed on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 and whose husband was among the 10 activist who were killed on that voyage by Israeli forces.
The women’s boat to Gaza is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) established in 2010 as an international solidarity movement working to end the illegal Israeli siege on Gaza. It is the FFC’s fourth mission and was launched on March 8, 2016 on International Women’s Day to highlight the role women play in the resistance movement and the survival of the Palestinian people as a whole.
The WBG participants intend to raise awareness about the ongoing struggle that women in Gaza, in the West Bank, inside the Green Line and in the diaspora, have waged and continue to wage against the Occupation.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been challenging the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza in several different ways for 6 years and the WBG has made the following statement about its ethos:
“While our focus is on opposing the blockade against the Palestinian people of Gaza, we see this in the larger context of supporting the right to freedom of movement for all Palestinians. The Occupation daily violates the rights of Palestinians to move freely around their country and to leave and return to their country, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also support other broad-based demands for Palestinian rights based on International Law, including:
- Ending the Israeli Occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Apartheid Wall;
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194of 11 December 1948.”
The Gaza Strip has been under siege for a decade, with a strict Israeli-Egyptian blockade controlling the entry and exit of people and goods.
In 2014 suffered the third and bloodiest military offensive by Israel in eight years and has not since been able to recover due to the blockade.
The siege of Gaza amounts to collective punishment and is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has been consistently violating international and humanitarian law, and the International Criminal Court is currently conducting a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes committed in Palestine.
Gaza has frequently reported to be heading for an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. The UN has predicted that it will become uninhabitable by 2020.
Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants, most of whom are refugees, struggle to access even their most basic forms of human rights, such as food, water, electricity, medicine, shelter and sanitation. Inhabitants’ every aspect of life is affected by the siege, and the people of Gaza are in an urgent need of action from the international community to end a blockade that is slowly killing them.
Campaigns participating in the WBG include Ship to Gaza-Sweden, Ship to Gaza-Norway, Canadian Boat to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla-Italy, Palestine Solidarity Alliance-South Africa, Rumbo a Gaza-Spain, International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza, US Boat to Gaza, Kia Ora Gaza – New Zealand/Aotearoa, and Free Gaza Australia.
Middle East Monitor