Ships "Manned" By Women Sail for Gaza

On September 14, the Amal and Zaytouna set sail from Barcelona. The names of the two ships — that translate to "hope" and "olive" in Arabic — are suited for the ships' mission to "express our solidarity with the Palestinian women and the people of Gaza."

The ships are crewed entirely by women.

The "Freedom Flotilla Coalition" is comprised of female activists, politicians, and artists alike, including Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead MaGuire from Ireland, American screenwriter and playwright Naomi Wallace, and professional athlete Cigdem Topcuoglu, whose husband was among 10 activists killed in a flotilla mission in 2010.

According to The New York Times, the Gaza strip has been blockaded by Israel since Hamas took over the territory in 2007. The area is populated by 1.76 million — 1.24 million of them are Palestinian refugees. The flotilla plans on breaking the blockade.

"For us, as the women of the world, this fight is also important," said Jaldia Abubakra, an Israeli-born activist crewing the ships. "It is important to show our rights … to prove that we are able to send ships to the Gaza Strip, to show that we stand in solidarity with women and people in the area."

The "Women's Boat to Gaza" had previously attempted to break the blockade last year, but the ship was boarded and redirected by the Israeli navy.

"In a world that is suffering, I think it is possible to find a peaceful solution," said former Canadian Prime Minister, Alex Atamanenko, who commented on the voyage.

The vessels are now en route to the Messina Port in Sicily for corresponding programs.

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