Israel Deports Detainees From Women's Gaza Flotilla

The 13 women, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, were detained on Wednesday after their boat was prevented from reaching the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians sail boats in the port of Gaza City in support of the Gaza-bound flotilla of international female activists attempting to break Israeli blockade. October 5, 2016.
Mahud Hams, AFP

All but one of the 13 women activists detained on Wednesday for trying to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip have been deported from Israel, according to the French news agency AFP on Friday.

The report quoted Interior Ministry spokesperson Sabin Haddad as saying: "All the boat's passengers have left Israel except a woman who will fly to Oslo this afternoon."

The women, who included Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and a number of parliamentarians, were detained after their sailboat, the Zaytouna-Oliva, was intercepted in international waters about 35 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza.

The boat was diverted to the port of Ashdod and the women held in custody before being deported.

“The deportation was much quicker than in prior flotillas," said Wendy Goldsmith, a member of the land team assisting the women. "While we had a great legal team assisting the women, we suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception."

The Women’s Boat to Gaza, which set out from Barcelona, is part of the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition of pro-Palestinian groups, mostly based in Europe. The coalition has sent several aid boats bound for Gaza, though the last to successfully reach Gaza was in 2008.

In 2010, Israel intercepted the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla bound for Gaza, killing 10 Turkish nationals.

Meanwhile, legendary rock band Pink Floyd "reunited" on Thursday night in support of the flotilla. The group "stands united in support of the Women of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and deplores their illegal arrest and detention in international waters by the Israeli Defense Force," the three living members of the band, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters, wrote on their Facebook page.