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Occupation magazine - Activism

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Freedom Flotilla Coalition goes to Israeli court

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition demands the release of the boat Zaytouna-Oliva, stolen by Israel on October 5, 2016 in international waters 34 miles off Gaza and outside the self-declared Israeli security zone as the Women`s Boat to Gaza sailed on its 1,715 mile mission to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

After an eight hour trip from the point of theft and arrest of the 13 passengers from 13 countries, including a Nobel Peace Laureate and two members of Parliament from Algeria and from New Zealand, the Zaytouna was taken from Ashdod harbor to Haifa harbor where it is currently being allowed to deteriorate without proper inspection and maintenance. Israeli lawyers hired by the Gaza Freedom Flotilla are demanding in Israeli court the return of the Zaytouna.

One court hearing was held in January and the next court hearing is on March 5, 2017 ,09:30,at Ron Sokol judje hall 617.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition asserts its right to peaceful protest against the blockade of Gaza. The peaceful Women`s Boat to Gaza mission posed no threat to Israeli security and the confiscation of its vessel was an unjustifiable and unnecessary act of aggression.

The illegal blockade of Gaza directly violates international law, including the Geneva Conventions. The blockade of Gaza constitutes collective punishment, illegal under the Geneva Conventions: the harms it does to the civilian Palestinian population is disproportionately greater than any security it can provide to Israel.

The current living situation in Gaza is unfathomably inhumane and is in direct violation of basic human rights. All people of conscience should be working to end the blockade, not perpetuating it. The release of confiscated international boats like this one should also be accompanied by the release of Palestinian fishing boats from Gaza, and an assertion of the rights of Palestinian fishing boats to enjoy full access to their full territorial waters, without the ongoing military harassment they continue to be subject to.

Coalition Member and Israeli citizen Zohar Chamberlain Regev states `We believe that the capture and confiscation of the Zaytouna-Oliva was illegal. Our protest is peaceful and does not pose a threat to Israel. Based on past decisions we believe the court must insist on the return of our confiscated property.`

Ann Wright, boat leader of the Zaytouna, and a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat said, `Israel stole our boat in international waters, kidnapped us, forced us to go to Israel against our will and then deported us. We demand the government of Israel return the Zaytouna as a matter of international maritime and property law.`

The international steering committee of the Women`s Boat to Gaza will meet February 25-26 in Caligria, Sardinia, Italy to have an in-person review of the 2016 Women`s Boat to Gaza project, complete plans for a 2017 fishing project in Gaza and prepare for the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla boat project. Ann Wright will attend the meeting on behalf of the U.S. campaign.

Freedom Flotilla Coalition

US to Gaza, Women`s Boat to Gaza, c/o Nonviolence International, 4000 Albemarle Street, NW Suit e 401 , Washington , DC 20016
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