The Israeli navy has been preparing to attack the Women’s Boats heading to break the ten-year-old siege on the Gaza Strip, Quds Press reported yesterday. The boats, which are part of the Freedom Flotilla Alliance, are expected to arrive in Gaza within three days if they are not impeded in any way.
According to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 TV, naval gunships have been waiting in the port of Ashdod ready to move and intercept the Zaytouna and Amal, the two boats making the bid. The TV report claimed that the activists on board the boats have been trained in order to know what to do if they are confronted by the Israeli navy.
Meanwhile, Channel 7 TV said that a group of right-wing Jewish settlers are planning their own flotilla off the coast of Gaza to intercept the Zaytouna and Amal, and oblige them to go to Syria. Refugees there, they argue, are in more need of their support than the Palestinians in Gaza.
Thirty international activists are on the humanitarian mission to Gaza, including the Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire from Northern Ireland, Swedish European Parliament Member Malin Bjork, Marama Davidson, a Green Party MP from New Zealand, and American screenwriter and playwright Naomi Wallace. Turkish athlete Cigdem Topcuoglu, who sailed on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 and whose husband was among the ten activists killed by Israeli commandos, is also on board the Women’s Boats to Gaza.
According to the UN, Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020, said Canadian social worker, Wendy Goldsmith, adding that the WBG “declares that the illegal blockade of Gaza must end, so that every person can live with freedom and dignity.”
Pro-Palestinian Turks gather on the fourth anniversary of a deadly Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, in Istanbul, Turkey
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of a flotilla crewed by an alliance of pro-Palestinian activists who had combined to deliver 10,000 tonnes of aid to Gaza.
The Israeli raid killed nine Turkish citizens and injured about 50 other people. A tenth Turkish national later succumbed to his injuries.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
The Tel Aviv regime has waged three wars on the coastal enclave since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and over 11,100 others wounded.