New Zealand represented on Women’s Boat to Gaza

By   /   July 31, 2016  /   48 Comments

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This year the Freedom Flotilla Coalition will launch an all-women fleet to challenge the nearly 10-year-old blockade of Gaza. In late September two boats, the Amal-Hope and Zaytouna-Oliva, will leave Italy and set sail for the coast of besieged Gaza to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade of the Palestinian territory. The Flotilla will aim to arrive in Gaza on October 1st, visiting other Mediterranean ports along the way to raise awareness and collaborate with local organisations, inviting local boats to sail with them for some legs of the trip. The flotilla boats will then be donated to the people of Gaza.

According to Women’s Boat to Gaza website, the blockade of the densely populated Gaza strip “is a form of collective punishment”, which violates the Geneva Conventions and denies the 1.8 million inhabitants “the possibility to support themselves, security of food supplies, medical care, education, drinkable water and cultural exchange”.  To add salt to the wound, Gaza is still suffering from the effects of the brutal 2014 attack by the Israeli military, which lasted 51 days and, according to the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry, killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 551 were children. Over 11,000 Palestinians were injured, 1,500 children orphaned, 18,000 homes destroyed and half a million people displaced.

Another UN report  published last year predicts that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed. 90% of the water is not drinkable and electricity is only available for a few hours a day. There is over 30% unemployment, 75% of the population are dependent on international aid, 35% of agricultural land and 85% of fishing waters are inaccessible due to restrictions imposed by the Israeli military and navy. Around half the population are under the age of 18.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition supports the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice based on international law, which includes: an end to the occupation and dismantling of the apartheid wall, equal rights for Palestinian citizens under Israeli law, and the right of return for refugees to their homes and property. Its aim is to end the blockade of Gaza completely and permanently. Another aim of the women’s mission is to highlight the important role of women in the struggle for human rights in Palestine.

Organisations in Norway, Canada, Italy, South Africa, Spain, USA, New Zealand and Australia are participating in the Women’s Boat to Gaza campaign, with more to be announced. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition organised the previous Freedom Flotillas in 2010, 2011 and 2015 and this is the first all-women Flotilla to sail to Gaza. The Flotilla will be crewed entirely by women, with prominent women participants confirmed from several participating countries (more to be announced), including Nobel Laureate and peace activist from Northern Ireland Mairead Maguire, Naomi Wallace (US), our own Marama Davidson, who is the New Zealand Green Party spokesperson on Human Rights, and Gerd von der Lippe (Norway). Also on board will be Cigdem Topçuoglu, whose husband was killed on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

The 2010 Flotilla gained significant international attention when one of the ships, the Turkish Mavi Marmara, was attacked by the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF), killing nine passengers  (a tenth died four years later, never recovering from a coma caused by injuries sustained in the attack). This was a turning point for the campaign, sparking large international protests. Subsequent Freedom Flotillas have not suffered any deaths, although the response from the IOF is still violent, with reports of tasers being used on intercepted vessels. In 2011 the second Freedom Flotilla suffered sabotage to its ships, only one of which managed to approach Gaza, but was boarded and redirected to an Israeli port. Among those on the 2015 Flotilla were two MaoriTV journalists, Ruwani Perera and Jacob Bryant, who made a two-part documentary about the Flotilla. Their boat was intercepted and they were detained in Israel before being sent back to New Zealand.

 

 

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About the author

Sian Robertson

Contributor

Siân Robertson is a student of linguistics and languages at Auckland University and an organiser for the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network. An activist globally and locally, she has been actively involved in the Mana Movement. She was deputy editor of the carbuyers' Dog & Lemon Guide for several years. She is also an enthusiastic amateur footballer and a mother.

48 Comments

  1. Imagine if Israel was blockaded by land, sea, and air by it’s neighbours.

    Imagine if the US was blockaded by Russia and China.

    Imagine if the West tried to blockade North Korea (instead of just trade sanctions for it’s atomic weapons programme).

    World War III would break out within twentyfour hours. No nation would tolerate being blockaded, especially illegally.

    Israel’s blockade of Gaza is not just illegal, it is morally bankrupt. It is the 21st Century version of the Nazi-created Warsaw Ghetto.

    My sympathies are with Gaza, and not with Israel, which continues to act as a regional bully.

  2. Oh, I forgot to ask, Sian, is there an account where we can make donations? I would be willing to contribute.

    • Steve King says:

      Agree, Frank. I will happily donate to support this. It’s incredibly important that actions like this continue, to maintain some kind of focus on the illegality of the blockade, and its human casualties.

  3. Eddie says:

    How is this $25000 better than spending the same on actually sending aid? As far as i see, an e pensive publicity stunt does little to practically help anyone. Why don’t we donate straight to Hamas to help them rebuild?

    • Eddie, it’s not a “publicity stunt”.

      You could donate a billion bucks to Hamas (which wouldn’t be a bad idea), and Hamas would be unable to use that money to import building materials and technology to rebuild. Remember, Israel has illegally blockaded Gaza. Very little gets through to the people of that open-air prison-camp.

      • Eddie says:

        If it’s not about the publicity, what else does it achieve?
        There is plenty of goods entering Gaza through Israel! That the concrete goes to tunnel building instead of schools is not Israel’s fault, is it?
        The foreign aid pledged by wealthy Arab countries has not materialised because they don’t even trust Hamas. Are you serious about funding the terror org? I was joking!

        • John W says:

          Eddie you must read just what MSM presents.

        • Theodore says:

          “That the concrete goes to tunnel building instead of schools is not Israel’s fault, is it?”

          It’s as much Israel’s fault as the concrete they use to build illegal settlements in the West Bank.

          Withdraw Israeli settlers and hand over the homes to the Palestinian people. Until Israel stops flouting UN resolutions there will never be peace.

  4. Andrew says:

    Gaza isn’t blockaded.

    Israelis merely searches incoming goods for weapons and explosives.

    In fact the volume of goods entering Gaza has doubled in the last year and Gaza is now exporting products.

    • Gaza isn’t blockaded.

      Andrew, your knowledge of international current affairs is woeful. I refer you to U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon’s recent comments;

      UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticised Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip during a visit to the Palestinian territory.

      Ban said on Tuesday that “the closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts.

      “It’s a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,” he added.

      He pointed to the electricity shortage in Gaza and the unemployment that hit 50 percent among the coastal enclave’s youths.

      “We must speak openly about the unacceptable hardships faced by the people of Gaza in light of the humiliation, occupation and siege, as well as the division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” Ban said.

      ref: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/ban-ki-moon-israel-gaza-blockade-160628200404335.html

      I suggest you read up on global affairs before posting such asinine comments. They do you no credit.

      Ditto, Eddie, above.

      • Heather says:

        Thanks for posting comments of the UN, an organisation which has a Human RIghts Council headed by Saudi Arabia.

        The truth is that tens of thousands of tonnes of goods cross from Israel each DAY https://twitter.com/cogat_israel. Nothing gets through Egypt and yet they aren’t blamed at all for anything.

        That the concrete goes to tunnel building instead of schools is not Israel’s fault, is it?
        The foreign aid pledged by wealthy Arab countries has not materialised because they don’t even trust Hamas.

        [EDDIE/Heather, please use only one pseudonym when posting on this forum. Using multiple pseudonyms will not add to your credibility and is frowned on. – ScarletMod]

        • Well, so Eddie/Heather, you’re simp[ly another apologist for the Israeli government’s policy of aggression against Palestinians?

          And you’re still maintaining the official Israeli line that “tens of thousands of tonnes of goods cross from Israel each DAY”? So the Secretary General of the U.N. is lying?

          I think not.

          Especially when Israel has violated dozens of U.N. resolutions, I think I know who to believe and who to dismiss as a mouthpiece for the aggressor.

          • Heather says:

            Frank,
            There’s no “policy of aggression” so nothing to apologise for – your question is a complete straw man. Can you not provide any facts?

            “The Israeli official line” happens to be just some true facts. Yes, I agree with verifiable facts. It seems you’d rather rely on the statements of a leader of an organisation that is corrupt and biased.

            Let’s let the readers decide which they think is more reliable.

            [sorry for the names, my husband and I use the same account].

            [I will take your explanation under advisement. But if I have due reason to believe that “EDDIE” and “Heather” are the same writer, I will ban you without further notice. – ScarletMod]

            • Priss says:

              Heather or Eddie or whatever name your using, try debating the real issues of the illegal blockade against Gaza (and the illegal settlements on the West Bank).

              Your lying and trying to refute the blockade shows that your position is untenable. You know too damned well that the blockade is not just illegal, it is morally indefensible.

              And because it is indefensible, your denying it’s very existence.

              Shame on you zionist liars!! Shame!

            • I did provide facts, Eddie/Heather. You’ve simply ignored the statements made by the U.N. secretary-general.

              As for the ““The Israeli official line” happens to be just some true facts” – rubbish. More lies from it’s supporters .

              In fact, only a few years ago, the Israeli government threatened anyone travelling to Gaza by sea with a ten year travel ban:

              “The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek 10-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea.”

              Source: Jerusalem Post, http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Israels-envoys-to-US-UN-justify-Gaza-blockade

              Or is Jerusalem Post an arm of the “corrupt” United Nations as well?

              The facts are clear, Eddie/Heather. You’re simply doing your best to obfuscate through your lies and mis-information.

              • Heather says:

                Gaza is blockaded – that’s a fact. Did you read the UN report that took into account both Turkish and Israeli viewpoints and was presided over by Kiwi Sir Palmer? That report found that the blockade is legal because of the threat of Hamas trying to enact their charter to destroy Israel and kill all Jews.

                Given that the rockets continue to be fired from Gaza into Israel and now evidence that Hamas is working with ISIS, the blockade needs to remain.

                That doesn’t mean that food and aid can’t get in or that people aren’t treated in Israeli hospitals but that Israel checks the goods to protect their citizens.

                The blockade was put in place AFTER Israel withdrew from Gaza and handed over everything to the Palestinians and then Hamas took over and started to attack Israel. THEN the blockade was put into place to protect Israelis. If you want the blockade removed without any change to Hamas then you don’t think Israeli lives matter.

                If you really care about the Palestinians you should be speaking out against Hamas. That you support them, even implicitly, tells all.

            • Samwise says:

              Eddie, Heather,whatever,(and Andrew) you must be pretty damned desperate to be resorting to such blatant lies.

              You remind me of Holocaust Deniers.

            • Theodore says:

              Eddie-Heather and Andrew, if you’re going to tell a lie, the golden rule is to make it believable. Don’t treat us like idiots.

              Lift the blockade on Gaza, it’s as simple as that. THEN you can rightly claim there is no blockade.

            • Jane B says:

              Eddie and Heather, your insistence that there is no blockade is preposterous and shows only that you’re lying to cover for the expansionist, Zionist Israeli regime.

              Oxfam has reported on the blockade here;

              “The humanitarian needs remain enormous. Gaza has witnessed its worst destruction in decades and an already vulnerable civilian population has been left even more vulnerable.

              More than 100,000 people (more than half of these children) have had their homes destroyed, 75,000 still displaced. 96 per cent of water supply is unsafe to drink and there are power cuts of 12 hours a day. Restrictions on essential building materials mean that only 9.7 per cent of homes have been rebuilt.

              The blockade prevents most people from leaving Gaza or trading with the outside world and markets in the West Bank. Fishermen and farmers are restricted from accessing their land and often shot at while working. The economy has been devastated, with more than 60 per cent of youth now unemployed – the highest rate in the world. ” https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-gaza

              And the BBC have reported here; ” The strip was out under a heightened Israeli blockade since the militant group Hamas seized control in June 2007. Israel wants to weaken Hamas, end rocket attacks from Gaza and get back captured soldier Gilad Shalit. ” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7545636.stm

              Your lies are laid bare, Heather & Eddie or whoever you are.

              When you have to resort to bare-faced lies, it shows you have nothing left to go on!!

              • Heather says:

                I never said there was no blockade. It’s sad that there needs to be such measures to protect Israelis.

                Your support for Hamas, a group working with ISIS, says it all.

                • Your support for Hamas, a group working with ISIS, says it all.

                  Heather/Eddie, where do you get your misinformation from?!

                  I refer you to this story which indicates that Hamas is actually fighting against ISIS;

                  The Islamic State’s affiliate in Egypt is staging increasingly sophisticated and daring attacks, officials and analysts say, prompting Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian militant group Hamas to form an unlikely alliance against the terrorist group.

                  Hamas deployed several hundred fighters last week to Gaza’s border with Egypt’s lawless northern Sinai as part of a deal with Egypt to keep militants of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — from entering the coastal enclave.

                  ref: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-hamas-and-egypt-form-unlikely-alliance-against-islamic-state-affiliate/2016/04/30/cacb99dc-fb79-11e5-813a-90ab563f0dde_story.html

                  Your knowledge of international affairs is woeful.

                • John W says:

                  Hamas is elected by the people.

                  Israel hold the power not Hamas.

                  Israel is the occupier.

                  Israel kills and mains routinely.

                  Israel refuses to respond to UN rulings

                  And yet you blame Hamas.

                  Blame the victim mentality.

                  • Heather says:

                    Hitler was elected also and he had a similar charter to Hamas. Do you not believe Jews should defend themselves?

                    Should the rockets fired into Israel go unchallenged, the tunnels not destroyed, and the smugglers not held in check? That would mean far more Israeli lives claimed – is that what you want?

                    • John W says:

                      Making peace has been in Israel’s hands for decades.
                      Your questions are not answers to the ongoing land grab Israel is perusing.

                      When your land is occupied and the people are subjugated then what should they do … lie down and die.

                      I ask you in return do you think the UN is blind.

                      The justifications of invasion, using military might against civilians, stealing land, taking water and food sources, preventing trade, throwing and entire nation into ongoing chaos and misery for generations, may please you gut those justifications iterated by Israel political mouthpieces are not what many of the people of Israel say. They want peace .
                      Do you .

    • Priss says:

      “Gaza isn’t blockaded”?

      Andrew, you’ve just added a whole new level of Denying to your resume.

  5. Roger Fowler says:

    How to support NZ’s participation in this important mission – donate to our appeal to raise $25,000:

    Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

    Write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

    Kia Ora Gaza is a Charitable Trust incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957. Registration number 2540065.

    • Thank you, Roger.

      $250 donated this morning.

      Each time EDDIE/Heather (or one of their other pseudonyms) posts here, I’ll top it up with an extra $25.

      A real pleasure to assist.

      • Heather says:

        I would love to post 100 times so no one else is scammed of their money but I don’t want to upset the Mods. ScarletMod would not be happy with a spam of posts just to get you to donate.

        Can we just say you’ll fund the whole $25k so the generosity of others can go to causes other than publicity stunts? Women’s refuge or the City Missions or countless other real charities could use the money for real good.

    • Samwise says:

      Thanks for the details, Roger. We’ll be putting a cheque in the post today.

    • Jane B says:

      Donation on the way. Thank you!

  6. Roger Fowler says:

    How to support NZ’s participation in this important mission – donate to our appeal to raise $25,000:

    Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

    Write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

    Kia Ora Gaza is a Charitable Trust incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957. Registration number 2540065.

  7. John W says:

    It looks like Israel’s illegal expansion will envelope Gaza and further.

    Certainly a terror organisation, shielded by the USA.

    Israel is earning itself a growing antagonism globally.

  8. Roger Fowler says:

    Follow the Women’s Boat to Gaza peace flotilla – go to http://www.kiaoragaza.net

  9. Lois Griffiths says:

    So Israel-firsters want to deny that Gaza is under siege.

    How would you like it if you were never allowed to visit or be visited by your own relatives?
    Isn’t this an example of sadistic cruelty?

    The Gazans are Palestinians. They have family members in the West Bank and in Israel and in the diaspora.
    Gazans don’t want to live on charity; they want freedom to be self-sufficient..freedom to fish without being shot , freedom to farm without being shot and without their fields being poisoned by deliberate aerial spraying, they want their children to be free to have a normal children without drones flying overhead reminding them that they can be killed any time. They want to access their aquifer water without it being drained before reaching Gaza. They want decent water and sanitation services without them being bombed.

    I admire Marama Davidson and the other women of conscience from around the world who believe in a shared humanity. They are truly heroic. What they are attempted to do is so important.
    In spite of all she has been through Gazan Red Crescent Dr Mona El Farra has said that the hardest thing for the people to endure is the feeling that the world doesn’t care.

    Stay Human.

    • DJ says:

      heather/ Eddie your are full of shit… And a disgusting Zionist mouthpiece.
      Read. “Drinking The Sea of Gaza”. Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege. By Amira Hass an Israeli journalist

  10. Mike in Auckland says:

    This is what the hell goes on in Aleppo Syria right now, I do not support or oppose it, but it is dramatic, a nasty reality that most here shy away from seeing and facing up, to, but Key and consorts support the US and what goes on in Iraq, another failed state.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX3bzq9FDi8

    • John W says:

      Key is shifting his PR image hoping many will accept his support of US/ Israeli terrorism.

      Some will follow him undoubtedly. There are many who blindly support war and aggression against others and stealing their resources. Greed is fairly universal and as a greed cheer leader Key must be recognised for who he is and what he is doing. Certainly nothing for NZ.

      Power is corrupting.