Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gaza-bound flotilla to set off from Barcelona

A new flotilla of international activists is scheduled to set off for the Gaza Strip from Barcelona on Wednesday evening, under the banner "Mujeres Rumbo a Gaza" (Women's Boat to Gaza), the Jerusalem Post reports.

The flotilla, which will be carrying dozens of women — including some Israelis — is intended to try and break through Israel's naval blockade of the Strip, which has been in place since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007.

The Israeli authorities are preparing to prevent the flotilla from breaching the blockade, according to the Post.

At the same time, Israel's Foreign Ministry is working behind the scenes to try and reduce any potential diplomatic fallout from the flotilla.

Each of the two ships due to sail, the "Amal" (Hope) and "Zaytouna" (Olive), are expected to carry 15 passengers apiece. Their first stop has been scheduled for Corsica.

Swedish European Parliament member Malin Bjork, retired US army colonel Ann Wright and Dr. Fouzia Hassan, of Malaysia, are among the pro-Palestinian activists set to join the flotilla, according to the Post.

The Israeli spokesperson for Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi was also expected to board the flotilla.

Last June, a flotilla from Sweden was intercepted off the coast of Gaza by Israeli security forces and escorted to Ashdod port.

Six years ago, the Mavi Marmara flotilla that set sail from Turkey to Gaza was boarded by Israeli commandos, with nine Turkish nationals killed in the ensuing melee.

The incident ruptured diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey, which were finally re-established in June.

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