Israeli official and media sources indicated that Israel has deported all but one of a group of women activists who tried to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by boat earlier this week.
“All the boat’s passengers have left Israel except a woman who will fly to Oslo this afternoon,” Israel’s Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told AFP.
Thirteen women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, were detained on Wednesday after their sailboat was stopped in international waters, off the coast of Gaza.
— Astro AWANI (@501Awani) October 6, 2016
The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September with women of various nationalities.
Organizers said among the other women detained were Algerian MP Samira Douaifia, Swedish politician Jeannette Escanilla and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel and State Department official who resigned over the 2003 Iraq war.
Others came from Australia, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and Britain.
Pink Floyd unite to support the Women's Boat to Gaza https://t.co/htYHOggd6j
— Tahmeena Bax (@TahmeenaBax) October 7, 2016
A statement from the group said the boat, named Zaytouna-Oliva was surrounded by two warships along with four to five smaller naval boats as it neared Gaza on Wednesday.
“The IDF (Israeli army) gave warning to the Zaytouna-Oliva to stop their course towards Gaza. When the warning was refused, at least seven members, both male and female, boarded the Zaytouna and commandeered the sailboat. This happened in international waters,” the statement in part read.
Wendy Goldsmith, a member of the land team working on behalf of the women, stated:
— Freedom Flotilla (@GazaFFlotilla) October 7, 2016
“The deportation was much quicker than in prior flotillas. While we had a great legal team assisting the women, we suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception.
“In the course of their capture, the women persisted in telling the IDF that Israel’s interception of their boat was illegal and that they were being taken against their will to Israel.”
“The Women’s Boat to Gaza campaign asserts that while the captivity of the women on board Zaytouna-Oliva is over, the captivity of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza remains.
— Free Gaza Movement (@freegazaorg) October 7, 2016
Mina Harbilo, a reporter for Al-Jazeera described the situation saying, “The Israeli army then took over the boat. The women showed no resistance as they wanted to emphasize that their mission was peaceful. The women cried because they could not reach Gaza.”
(PC, Times of Israel, Agencies)