Spain: Women’s boats leave Spain to protest Gaza blockade

16th Sep 2016
Spain: Women’s boats leave Spain to protest Gaza blockade

By Alyssa McMurtry

 

MADRID (AA): An international group of female activists has set sail from Barcelona to the Gaza Strip as part of the latest attempt to end the Israeli blockade.

Around 20 women from a range of countries were given a warm farewell by cheering crowds including Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau on Wednesday evening.

The two sailboats are expected to arrive in Gaza in early October to deliver urgent food and medicine to the enclave, organizers told the media.

“The Women’s Boat to Gaza seeks not only to challenge the Israeli blockade but to also show solidarity and bring a message of hope to the Palestinian people,” the organizers said on their website.

“By launching a women’s boat, women from all over the world aim to highlight the undeniable contributions of Palestinian women who have been central within the Palestinian struggle.”

A similar protest ended in tragedy in 2010 when ships carrying aid to Gaza were raided by Israeli commandos who killed 10 Turkish activists.

The nearly decade-long blockade of the Gaza strip by Israel was imposed to put pressure on ruling party Hamas. Since then, the blockade has cut Gaza’s gross domestic product in half and led to the highest unemployment rate in the world, according to a 2015 World Bank report. Gazans suffer from poor access to basic services and most cannot leave the enclave without special travel permits.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has referred to the blockade as “collective punishment”.

[Photo: Activists of Two sailing boats, Amal-Hope and Zaytouna-Oliva, with only female activists on board, make preparations before set off for the Gaza Strip from the port of Barcelona under the banner “The Women’s Boat to Gaza” to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza on September 14, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. Photographer: Albert Llop/AA]

 

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