The latest Freedom Flotilla to Gaza set sail from Barcelona today. The Women's Boat to Gaza (WBG) will host women from all over the world to highlight "the undeniable contributions and indomitable spirit of Palestinian women who have been central within the Palestinian struggle in Gaza, the West Bank, inside the Green Line and in the diaspora."
The 30 women participating in the flotilla are representing over 15 countries across six continents including famed Algerian Al Jazeera journalist Khadija Benguenna, Algerian parliamentarian Samira Dawaifiya, Dr Fawzia Hassan from Malaysia, Tunisian MP Latifa Habachi and Jordanian activist Ola Abed.
The objective of the WBG will be to challenge the Israeli siege on Gaza, show solidarity and bring a message of hope to the Palestinian people "with the support of women, men, non-governmental organisations [and] civil society groups."
Laura Arau, Spain's WBG partner, spoke of the significance of choosing Barcelona as the launch point. "We have been a sister city with Gaza since 1998, yet we have been unable to visit with one another," she says. "We want our sisters in Gaza to know they are not forgotten and that with these boats and women, we are sending to them our message of hope, love and solidarity."
The boats, which are carrying food and medicine, will depart to Ajaccio, France then make one more stop before reaching the shores of Gaza in early October. For the Barcelona-Ajaccio journey, the passenger manifest includes Malin Björk, a Swedish MEP; Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli who currently lives in Spain and is the spokesperson for the initiative; and Ann Wright, a former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 to demonstrate against the invasion of Iraq.
There were "high hopes that the flotilla would not be stopped by the Israeli navy" from reaching Gaza, Regev told Al Jazeera.
"We know that we are not a threat to Israel. We are not heading to an Israeli port so they have no reason to stop us," she explained. "As long as governments continue to ignore this political-humanitarian crisis, we, as global citizens of goodwill, have no choice but to continue our efforts to break this inhumane blockade."
In 2015, an attempt by WBG to reach Gaza was diverted to the Israeli city of Ashdod by the Israeli Navy. In 2010, a Turkish flotilla to Gaza was intercepted resulting in the killing of 10 activists on board the Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandos, sparking a severe diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel.
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