For the last 10 years, ever since the people of Gaza elected a Hamas government, Israel has blockaded Gaza, arrogating to itself the right to prevent ships landing there, ostensibly to prevent the supply of weaponry that might be used against Israel but actually in order to stifle Gaza’s economy to try to bend the will of the Palestinians who live there to the Israeli fascist and racist diktat.
As the Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians impresses itself ever more forcefully on public consciousness, democratically-minded and progressive people have increasingly come forward to support the Palestinian cause. One of the important actions they take is to sail ships to Gaza, often loaded with humanitarian aid. These are intercepted by the Israeli navy – and in 2010 the Israeli fascists went so far as to shoot at and kill 10 Turkish activists on board of one ship, the Mavi Marmara. Although the aid doesn’t arrive, more and more people have their eyes opened to the fascist nature of the Israeli regime and to the dishonesty of the imperialist governments and media which seek to portray Israel as democratic and fair, doing only what is necessary to prevent ‘terrorists’ from wreaking havoc.
The latest incident of boat intervention, which took place on 5 October 2016, went virtually unreported in the imperialist media, although it resulted in the arrest and detention of the 1976 winner of the Nobel peace prize, no less – Mairead Maguire. Mairead was one of thirteen women on a sailing boat called the Zaitouna – Oliva which was seeking to sail from Barcelona to Gaza. Among other women on the boat were Ann Wright, a retired US colonel, former South African Olympic volleyball player Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Algerian MP Samira Douaifia, Marama Davidson Green Party MP in New Zealand and Jeannette Escanilla first substitute MP in the Swedish parliament. The bravery of their actions in support of a just and humanitarian cause is exemplary.
When the Israeli navy boarded the boat, which is not very large, they had every opportunity to ascertain that there was absolutely nothing aboard that could conceivably amount to weaponry yet, although this is the excuse for maintaining the blockade, they still prevented the vessel from continuing to its intended destination and forced it to go to an Israeli port where all aboard were arrested. Most will be deported and thus prevented from meeting up with their friends in Gaza as they had hoped to do.
It is to be hoped that all decent-minded people will severely condemn this arbitrary and inhumane act of the Israeli authorities.