Meet the captain of the Women’s Boat to Gaza

30 Sep


VIDEO INTERVIEW: Israel SocialTV report

Meet Madeleine Habib from Tasmania, Australia. She is the captain of the Zaytouna, one of the ships of the Women’s Boat to Gaza flotilla, which is right now on its way to the besieged Gaza Strip. Madeleine previously worked on the ship with Doctors Without Borders where she took part in their rescue missions in the Mediterranean sea, rescuing migrants of the coast of Libya, delivering them safely to Europe.



Women’s Boat to Gaza ready to break Israeli blockade

30 Sep

dsc_2482 Crew preparing the Zaytouna-Oliva for departure from Messina, Sicily earlier.

Women’s Boat to Gaza – latest update: We are in contact with Zaytouna-Oliva and all on board are OK. She is still sailing in the direction of Gaza. Difficult weather conditions [have] caused some damage to the rigging. We are considering options for repair, but the safety and well-being of all those on board are our priorities.

Ed: and our Facebook pages will continue to post updates as soon as they become available. Below is an earlier report by The Electronic Intifada.

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Women’s flotilla leaves Sicily – heading for Gaza

27 Sep


New Zealand’s representative, Green MP Marama Davidson proudly displays the Tino Rangatiratanga flag on board the first boat as it leaves the port of Messina, Sicily and heads out across the Mediterranean for the distant shores of Gaza.

 14470717_1433753823307467_1652948072_nFinal farewells from some of the all-women crew of the Zaytouna-Olivia

Women’s Boat to Gaza statement, Messina, Sicily: 

This morning at 9:50 am, women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here.

When asked why they are going, the women gave a variety of responses. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate from Ireland, notes that “they say that ‘silence is golden’, but regarding the plight of Palestinians in Gaza the silence of the world, especially concerning their little children, shows a lack of moral and ethical leadership from the international community. Why has it lasted so long?”

For two of the women, their countries’ own historical struggles for human rights played an important role in their decision to join the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Leigh-Ann Naidoo, an Olympic volleyball player from South Africa, feels that “South Africans understand the importance of international solidarity in fighting regimes that practice segregation.” Marama Davidson, a Maori Member of Parliament from New Zealand, carries with her a strong personal connection to Palestinian women in Gaza. “As an indigenous woman myself, I want to stand alongside the women of Gaza and to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.”

The [second boat of the flotilla] Amal-Hope II has been making final preparations to sail and is scheduled to depart from Messina soon. Both boats are expected to arrive in Gaza in early October.

Yudit Ilany, an Israeli participant who has sailed with the Zaytouna-Oliva since Barcelona, said “The blockade of Gaza is a crime against humanity being committed in my name, and it is my duty to protest it in any way possible.”

The Women’s Boat to Gaza is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition composed of civil society organizations and campaigns from more than a dozen countries. For more information, visit

Photos: Chenaf Bouzid


Letter to McCully: demand safe passage for women’s flotilla

26 Sep


Marama Davidson, NZ Green Party MP and spokesperson for Human Rights, is New Zealand’s representative on the international Women’s Boats to Gaza peace flotilla, set to sail in a few days.

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Dear Mr McCully,

“We call on the NZ Government to urgently demand the Israeli authorities end the inhumane blockade and allow the Women’s Boats to Gaza safe and unhindered passage to their destination – the port of Gaza”

We are pleased to announce that our New Zealand nominee, Green Party MP Marama Davidson, has been selected to join the international Women’s Boats to Gaza peace flotilla. Marama is the Green Party spokesperson for Human Rights.

Marama has joined other prominent women from around the world and international media personnel on this peaceful civil society mission to challenge the illegal and inhumane 10-year Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. This all-women flotilla will also highlight the important role of women in the struggle for human rights in Palestine.

Due to depart Sicily this week, the two-boat flotilla will accentuate the devastating effects of the cruel Israeli blockade on the 1.8 million Palestinians isolated in Gaza, and emphasize in particular the struggle of women who often fill the role of caring for and sustaining life, and are actively involved in community development and nation building. It is important to make their voices heard, even more so during these times of extreme injustice and hardship.

We also acknowledge the recent anniversary of the massacre on the Mavi Marmara-led peace flotilla in 2010, when 10 civilians were murdered by Israeli commandos, an illegal attack in international waters that continues to go unpunished. However, this brutal assault doesn’t compare with the continual violence and occupation inflicted on Palestinians while world leaders fail to act. Ending Israel’s harsh settler-colonial occupation, siege and aggression is pivotal to bringing about peace in the region and the world.

Homes, schools and hospitals in Gaza have been destroyed by repeated Israeli bombings. 95% of the water is undrinkable and electricity is reduced to a few hours per day. Israel’s siege and naval blockade severely restricts the movement of goods and people. Gaza is known as the ‘world’s largest open air prison.’ A United Nations report states that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. In order to obviate this horrifying prediction the siege and naval blockade must be immediately lifted.

Marama’s participation in this important mission has been facilitated by Kia Ora Gaza and supported by many hundreds of fellow New Zealanders. The Women’s Boats to Gaza flotilla, supported by many women’s groups and NGOs in Gaza and by civil society around the world, seeks to bring a message of hope and solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for peace and justice.

Like previous peace flotillas, the Women’s Boats to Gaza poses no threat whatsoever to Israel. However, in light of Israel’s illegal interception and seizure of previous Gaza-bound boats in international waters, and NZ Parliament’s support for the women’s peace flotilla (21 September 2016), we call on the NZ Government to urgently demand the Israeli authorities end the inhumane blockade and allow the Women’s Boats to Gaza safe and unhindered passage to their destination – the port of Gaza.

Yours sincerely,

Roger Fowler QSM, Chair, Kia Ora Gaza.

Janfrie Wakim, Spokesperson for the Palestine Human Rights Campaign

Sian Robertson, Organiser, NZ Palestine Solidarity Network

Second women’s flotilla boat ready to sail for Gaza

26 Sep


Our New Zealand representative on the international Women’s Boats to Gaza, Green Party MP Marama Davidson, celebrates the arrival of the second flotilla boat, as she docks alongside her sister craft, the Zaytouna-Oliva, in Messina, Sicily earlier today.

Women’s Boat to Gaza press release, Messina, Sicily, 26 September 2016

There is adage that says “Hope springs eternal.” This was personified today when the Amal-Hope II entered Messina port to join her sister Zaytouna-Oliva.

According to Zohar Chamberlain-Regev, a boat leader for the  Messina-Gaza leg, “while Amal-Hope II showed up fashionably late, she is fully ready to join us on our next leg of the journey.”  Ann Wright, who is the other boat leader, said that she was incredibly moved by the generous outpouring of help in the purchase of this second boat. “We are all incredibly grateful and know that this second boat is important to help with our security and likelihood of reaching Gaza.”  The funds were raised through crowd-sourcing and other venues. Because not all funds, have been raised, the crowdsourcing site remains up to solicit additional needed funds.

The two sister boats will depart later this week to head for their final destination, the shores of Gaza. The original Amal-Hope remained in Barcelona due to mechanical difficulties.

The Women’s Boat to Gaza is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition composed of civil society organizations and campaigns from more than a dozen countries. For more information, visit

Ed: Kia Ora Gaza will post regular updates on this important Palestine solidarity mission to break through Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza. Check our Facebook pages also for more posts. Readers can support our New Zealand participation in the flotilla by donating to our appeal. For details on how to donate – check the sidebar of


Amal-Hope II makes her debut as she docks alongside her sister boat, the Zaytouna, in Messina this morning.

Marama welcomed to Messina – Gaza boat ready to sail

24 Sep


New Zealand’s representative on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, Marama Davidson MP, has safely arrived in Messina, Sicily, after a long & tiring journey. This pic shows her being greeted at a Women’s Boat to Gaza gathering upon her arrival. [Photo: Chenaf Bouzid]

Women’s Boat to Gaza statement, Messina, Italy 23 September 2016

This morning the community of Messina, Italy welcomed the participants on board Zaytouna-Oliva as they arrived following their voyage from Ajaccio, France. The sailing boat will leave Messina in a few days for its final destination: the shores of Gaza.

Lucio Intruglio, the local organizer in Messina noted “we have been waiting eagerly for our sisters to arrive and have a variety of activities to celebrate their mission.” During their stay at Messina, the women will participate in a nonviolence training and have a chance to meet with citizens, student groups and the mayor of Messina. Intruglio adds “but we will also be sure they get plenty of rest. We know that it is a long difficult journey and we want them to leave Messina refreshed for this important next leg.”

The Women’s Boat to Gaza is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition composed of civil society organizations and campaigns from more than a dozen countries. For more information, visit

As they head off to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade and express solidarity for the Palestinian struggle, readers can follow the Women’s Boat to Gaza with regular updates on this website and Kia Ora Gaza facebook pages. Check the sidebar to see how to donate to this historic mission.

Patti Smith supports the Women’s Boat to Gaza

23 Sep


VIDEO: Well-known US singer-songwriter Patti Smith supports the Women’s Boat to Gaza.

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