By Junaid S. Ahmad
“We are not a threat to Israel. We are a threat to this blockade…the only cargo we are carrying is nonviolence and hope.”- Nobel Laureate, Mairead Maguire
A peaceful, all-women boat mission has departed for Gaza https://wbg.freedomflotilla.org/)from Messina in Sicily last week. The women aim not only to highlight the role of women in resistance but also to take a message of solidarity and hope to the besieged Gaza Strip. Their non-violent action puts Israel’s brutal occupation on trial. Gaza has effectively been treated like an open air prison, under blockade for a decade, a densely populated small strip of land that has no access to the outside world, and to basic amenities like food and medicines. The situation is beyond dire.
The international group of notable women on board include: apart from Mairead Maguire, Marama Davidson, Samira Douaifia and Jeannette Escanilla who are members of parliament from New Zealand, Algeria and Sweden respectively. Sandra Barrilaro a photographer author from Spain, Ann Wright, Dr Fauzia Hasan and Leigh-Ann Naidoo a South African Olympian and activist are also part of the peace Boat
The Malaysian participant is well known humanitarian Dr Fauzia Hasan and this is what she had to say about the mission: “This humanitarian mission involves women only, just to show that there is a united voice in ending the blockade of Gaza, beyond gender, race, religion and geographical boundaries. It is purely a humanitarian mission to ensure freedom is given to all, for as Nelson Mandela once said: We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. To the people of Gaza, you are always in our prayers. This is a small sacrifice that we make to ensure your plight is heard and heeded by the world bi iznillah – Allah permits. Your perseverance, your resilience, your courage and the strong spirit in facing the continuous blockade, assault, oppression and discrimination – actually offer lots for us to learn, to admire and to follow.”
For this small, peaceful boat of women with nothing on board but hope and solidarity for the people of Gaza, the Israeli state is preparing its naval ships for an ‘interception’. Israel has attacked such missions in the past, best known among these is the Mavi Marmara in 2010, causing the deaths of 9 Turkish activists and one American of Turkish descent.
According to Ann Wright, former US diplomat and colonel, the women are sailing to remind the world of the brutal, illegal, Israeli naval blockade that has incarcerated 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and made Gaza a prison for them. As a citizen of the United States, she is sailing to remind her nation’s leaders of their complicity with Israel in maintaining this prison, as well as the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the apartheid walls, and the inhumane checkpoints for Palestinians.”
Only an outlaw and pariah state could engage in such behavior with impunity. JUST strongly condemns such reckless and potentially violent statements from the Israeli government, and asks the international community to allow this peaceful Women’s Boat to reach and connect with the people of Gaza with whom they are expressing their heartfelt solidarity.
Postscript: The Israelis have acted on their threat and did in fact deploy their naval arsenal to ‘intercept’ the peaceful Women’s Boat to Gaza. Despite the women’s desperate attempts to convey the simple, nonviolent message of love, hope, and solidarity they were bringing, they were blatantly assaulted by the Israelis, detained, and now indefinitely taken into Israeli custody. JUST strongly condemns this latest Israeli action that demonstrates how the Zionist state continues to block peace and justice, and impoverishes and brutalizes and entire people, with impunity.
Final Postscript: The Israeli occupation state ‘intercepted’ and detained all of the peaceful women on board the Women’s Boat to Gaza. They initially released and deported two of the women, and now have done the same with the rest of them. Meanwhile, the siege and blockade of Gaza and all of Palestine continues, under a harsh military occupation, while the world is still unable to lift a finger to halt and end the Israeli reign of terror.
Junaid S. Ahmad,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
6 October 2016.